Citizens United



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Daily Caller - The $14 trillion gorilla by David N. Bossie- 1/24/11

America is in a financial crisis. For years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have ignored the 800-pound gorilla in the room — our climbing $14 trillion national debt. That trend seems like it will continue with reports coming out over the weekend that President Obama will request more government spending in the State of the Union. I had hoped that a detailed plan on how to curb our government’s overspending would be the focus of the president’s speech. However, it looks like what he really wants is, in essence, another stimulus. We all know that the stimulus package passed during the early days of this administration failed miserably and contributed to the $14 trillion debt. If we do not address the ever-increasing debt, America may sink into a dangerous financial abyss.

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Politico - Year after ruling: Right gloats, left vows fight by Kenneth P. Vogel - 1/21/11

The first anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission was marked today in classically Washington fashion – with protests, press conferences, dueling panel discussions, and talk of a new effort by liberal groups to expose some of the conservative non-profits groups that took advantage of the ruling to spend millions of dollars on political ads.

Supporters of the decision did a low-key victory lap, praising the decision in panels, press releases and a slickly produced video featuring majestic orchestral music playing over clips of news footage from the GOP's landslide midterm election victories interspersed with endorsements from, among others, super lawyer Ted Olson, who argued the case and in the video called it "maybe the most important case in history."

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WashPost - How the Citizens United ruling freed political speech by David N. Bossie and Theodore B. Olson - 01/21/11

One year ago today, the Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It upheld the First Amendment rights of individuals acting through corporations and labor unions to participate in our political process, and it struck down an oppressive thicket of statutes restricting - and even criminalizing - their political speech.

The case arose in 2007, when Citizens United, a grass-roots membership organization, sought to broadcast a film critical of Hillary Clinton, then a candidate for president. The Federal Election Commission deemed the film too critical to be shown in the weeks before an election; if Citizens United had broadcast it, its officers would have been subject to prosecution and potential imprisonment for up to five years. The Supreme Court struck down this prohibition of corporate and labor union election-time speech about candidates as a violation of the First Amendment. To the court's majority, it was "stranger than fiction for our Government to make . . . political speech a crime."

Stranger still were the unwarranted attacks against the Supreme Court that followed. Most visibly, the president used his State of the Union address to...

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David v. Goliath: The One-Year Anniversary of Citizens United by David N. Bossie - 1/21/11

One year ago today, on January 21, the Supreme Court released its landmark decision in Citizens United v. FEC. The decision corrected an anomaly in campaign finance law, and in doing so was a tremendous victory for the First Amendment and Americans who wish to participate in our political process.

The case found its origins in 2007 when my group, Citizens United, a membership organization, sought to promote, distribute, and broadcast via video-on-demand a film critical of then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If Citizens United would have done so, we were told by the FEC that it would have been a willful violation of the provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (better known as "McCain-Feingold") which prohibited corporations from making independent expenditures and electioneering communications. This violation was not merely subject to a civil fine, but rather a criminal penalty – I personally would have been sent to jail for promoting the film. Citizens United filed a lawsuit against the Federal Election Commission to defend our right to promote and broadcast the film. It took more than two years, but the First Amendment protection of political speech was restored by the Supreme Court in this landmark ruling.

In the year since Citizens United was decided, it has been the subject of countless unwarranted attacks and harsh rhetoric. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) claimed...

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Business Week - Political Front Groups Have It Backward - 1/18/11

To call organizations that engage in political speech while protecting the identities of their donors "front groups" that are "inherently unethical" ignores our nation's rich history of political speech. When Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay published the Federalist Papers, a series of essays that shaped the debate regarding ratification of the U.S. Constitution, they did so anonymously under the pseudonym of "Publius." These founding fathers' words and arguments have stood the test of time and remain essential texts for all who seek to understand our Constitution and our form of government.

The writers of the Federalist Papers count as just one example of anonymous pamphleteers who existed at our nation's founding. Anonymous political speech is a key component of the American system of government. Today groups that include Citizens United, American Action Network, and Crossroads GPS carry on this tradition, engaging in political speech without disclosing the identity of their members. They choose anonymity in order to protect individuals' right to engage in speech without fear of reprisal.

This kind of political speech is protected by the First Amendment but for years...

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Weekly Standard - Campaign Finance Myths by William R. Maurer - 11/29/10

Since the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v. FEC last January, politicians have vied to see who could speak of the decision with the most vitriol. President Obama said he could not "think of anything more devastating to the public interest" and criticized the ruling in his State of the Union address with members of the Court present. Senator Al Franken called it "an incredible act of judicial activism," while Representative Peter DeFazio is "investigating" whether Chief Justice John Roberts should be impeached.

Politicians were not the only ones to denounce Citizens United. Numerous commentators likened it to Dred Scott, and a Huffington Post writer even compared the five justices in the majority to concentration camp prisoners who cooperated with the Nazis. We can expect the rhetoric only to get worse after the recent elections, where Democrats believe they lost a significant number of seats because of "corporate spending" unleashed by Citizens United.

Unhinged rhetoric aside, however, the critics of the decision almost always get their history wrong, have a selective view of Supreme Court precedent, and fundamentally misread the First Amendment. Read correctly, Citizens United represents a necessary correction to a fairly recent anti-free speech trend in the Court’s jurisprudence and is consistent with both the words and intent of the First Amendment.

Notably absent from many criticisms of the decision is any discussion of what the case was actually about...

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Reason Magazine - You Are Now Free to Speak About Politics Why do some people fear a less restricted debate? by Jacob Sullum - 11/19/10

As Democrats headed for what promised to be a midterm election fiasco of historic proportions, a pre-emptive excuse began to circulate: It was all the Supreme Court's fault. In an August Washington Post column, Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, said Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the January decision in which the Court overturned restrictions on political speech by corporations, had created a "very alarming" situation in which democracy (not to mention Democrats) would be swept away by "a flood of corporate campaign cash" because "there is no way private citizens can match the resources available to corporations to make their voices heard." In a radio address around the same time, President Barack Obama dreaded "a flood of attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names," unleashed by a ruling that "allows big corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence our elections."

In September a front-page New York Times story seemed to confirm these antediluvian prophecies. The paper reported that "outside groups supporting Republican candidates in House and Senate races across the country have been swamping their Democratic-leaning counterparts on television." The Times worried that "a relatively small cadre of deep-pocketed donors, unknown to the general public, is shaping the battle for Congress in the early going." It said "Democratic officials" believed "corporate interests, newly emboldened by regulatory changes," were trying to "buy the election." In short, the spending patterns seemed to be "a fulfillment of Democrats' worst fears after the Supreme Court's ruling in the Citizens United case."

Except that, as the Times conceded in the next paragraph, "it is not clear...whether it is actually an influx of new corporate money unleashed by the Citizens United decision that is driving the spending chasm." Other factors-"notably, a political environment that favors Republicans"-might be at work. In fact, the spending cited in the story was mostly by rich individuals or by groups organized under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, both of which were legal before Citizens United.

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Wash Times - Obama's ironic attack on free speech by Tim Phillips - 10/01/10

In a series of fundraising speeches for Democratic candidates, Mr. Obama has stated repeatedly that because of Citizens United, "there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates, and they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation. You don't know if it's a big oil company or a big bank." Unfortunately for him, the president's attack gets both the facts and the law wrong.

The landmark decision in Citizens United v. FCC held that corporations and unions cannot be barred from using general treasury funds to advocate expressly for or against the election of a candidate. The case is a huge free-speech victory, and it explicitly rejects the idea that "in the context of political speech, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers." The decision frees for-profit corporations, nonprofits and labor unions to rejoin the rest of the country in expressing their views about candidates for office.

However, Mr. Obama habitually has misrepresented Citizens United. It started at the State of the Union address, when he oddly stated that the case would allow foreign corporations to influence American elections. This is false; foreign nationals and foreign corporations were not affected by Citizens United and are still banned from making independent political expenditures.

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New York Post - Dems' New Excuse by Jacob Sullum - 09/25/10

As Democrats head for what promises to be an election fiasco of historic propor tions, a pre-emptive excuse has begun to circulate: It's all because of Citizens United. Team Donkey fans claim the Jan. 21 decision, in which the Supreme Court overturned restrictions on the political speech of corporations, triggered a flood of negative advertising by what President Obama calls "shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names."

If independent groups favoring Team Elephant have a spending advantage so far, it's not because of recent changes in the law. Most of the advertising that irks Democrats was legal before Citizens United.

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Big Government - Senator Schumer’s Attempt to Silence Political Speech by David N. Bossie - 08/25/10

When Senator Chuck Schumer staged an elaborate press conference on the steps of the Supreme Court to unveil his Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act ("DISCLOSE Act") he noted that:

"Anyone who wants to hide, will not do an ad after this legislation passes. And I think there are a lot of people who like to hide … so I think there’ll be many fewer of them."

His words revealed the true motivation of this legislation – it is not transparency but rather silencing speech in this critical election year. The Supreme Court in Citizens United v. FEC restored the First Amendment protection to political speech. Small businesses, corporations, unions, and membership based organizations may now have a voice in the public discourse. The Democratic leadership that is tasked with re-electing incumbent politicians and trying to minimize Democratic losses this November...

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Stop Playing Politics, Start Focusing on the Economy by David N. Bossie - 08/14/10

On July 27, 2010 the Senate failed to advance the Democracy is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections Act (“DISCLOSE Act”). The leaders of the Democratic Party including Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senator Chuck Schumer, and President Barack Obama crafted the legislation to silence speakers whose rights were restored by the Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC.

While Congressional leaders spent six months reacting to the Citizens United decision our economy continued to teeter on the brink. The liberal elites focused their energies on the DISCLOSE Act rather than focusing on meaningful fiscal policy to help strengthen our economy.

Reid and Schumer had planned to pass the DISCLOSE Act by the Fourth of July so that they could regulate and silence political speakers in the November elections. Once this was no longer a viable option, I assumed they would return to the business of promoting economic growth, saving jobs, and preventing massive tax increases from stifling our economy.

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Charlotte Observer - In Disclose Act, Democrats are muzzling free speech by George Will - 07/09/10

WASHINGTON Two splendid recent developments have highlighted how campaign finance "reforms" have become the disease they pretend to cure. In Arizona and in Congress, measures ostensibly aimed at eliminating corruption or the "appearance" thereof illustrate the corruption inherent in incumbents writing laws that regulate political competition by rationing political speech.

The Supreme Court has blocked implementation of Arizona's Clean Elections Act. Under it, candidates who accept taxpayer funding of their campaigns receive extra infusions of tax dollars to match funds raised by competitors who choose to rely on voluntary contributions. The law punishes people who do not take taxpayer funds.

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USA Today - Campaign finance shaped 2009-10 term - 07/01/10

WASHINGTON — After nine months and 73 decisions, the Supreme Court's newly concluded 2009-10 term is defined by a single case whose continuing political ramifications were on display this week in Senate hearings for Elena Kagan.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which stripped away federal limits on corporate and union spending in political campaigns, was invoked repeatedly — by Democrats and Republicans— during the questioning of high court nominee Kagan. Reverberations are likely into the fall elections and the next term.

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Wash Post - FEC: Citizens United conservative group doesn't have to disclose donors by Carol D. Leonnig - 06/10/10

The conservative political group Citizens United has won a ruling from federal election authorities that it does not need to disclose the donors that finance its political documentaries. Citizens United successfully argued to the Federal Elections Commission that because it primarily produces films, it should be considered a media organization and be exempted from disclosure requirements for political activist groups.

Citizens United has become a familiar name in Washington and beyond since winning won a landmark Supreme Court ruling in January. The court lifted a longtime ban on corporate funding of political campaign ads and ruled that companies should be allowed to spend unlimited dollars advocating their positions and exercising their free speech rights.

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SCOTUS Blog - New victory for Citizens United by Lyle Denniston - 06/10/10

Citizens United, the Virginia-based conservative advocacy group that won a major Supreme Court ruling in a dispute over a documentary film sharply critical of Hillary Clinton as a candidate, won another legal victory Thursday as the Federal Election Commission ruled by a 4-1 vote that the group’s film operations are part of the press. That makes those activities exempt from federal law requiring public disclosure of its income and spending on its film projects.

While the Supreme Court ruling in January (Citizens United v. FEC) gave the organization a constitutional right to spend unlimited funds in political advocacy in federal elections, the Justices turned aside the group’s constitutional challenge to the disclosure requirements imposed by federal campaign finance law for those who broadcast campaign information on radio, TV and cable during election season, if they identified a specific candidate. In Thursday’s FEC ruling, however, the group won an exemption from those same requirements, by gaining designation as a press entity. (The FEC had before it two drafts on Thursday — Draft A, granting the exemption, and Draft B, limiting the exemption. Draft A won approval; Draft B was not voted on. The two drafts can be read here.)

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CQ - Citizen's United Wins Again by Alex Knott- 06/10/10

Citizens United, fresh off of its landmark victory with Supreme Court, won again Thursday when the Federal Election Commission ruled that the conservative group does not have to reveal the donors behind its political documentaries. Citizens United argued that it should not have to file disclosure reports because it considers itself part of the media. The FEC agreed that Citizens United qualified for the "press exemption" from disclosure. Citizens United said it spent more than $3.4 million to produce and distribute documentary films in 2009.

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Weekly Standard - Why Obama Chose Kagan - 05/24/10

In January, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court held that under the First Amendment Congress may not limit corporate and union funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections. The Court overturned one of its own rulings and a provision of the McCain-Feingold legislation enacted in 2002. The decision has drawn impassioned and frequent rebukes from President Obama, who said the day it came down that it would empower "special interests and their lobbyists" at the expense of "average Americans who make small contributions to support their preferred candidates." He criticized Citizens United during his State of the Union speech, with most of the justices in attendance, and, when John Paul Stevens, who wrote a lengthy dissent in Citizens United, announced his retirement, Obama cited it as the kind of decision he didn't want the next justice to support.

Last week, introducing solicitor general Elena Kagan as his choice to replace Stevens, Obama again brought up Citizens United. He mentioned it as evidence that Kagan was on the side of average Americans. "She defended bipartisan campaign finance reform against special interests seeking to spend unlimited money to influence our elections," he said. Her work on the case, Obama went on, "says a great deal about her commitment to protect our fundamental rights, because in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens."

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Politico - McConnell attacks Kagan over Citizens United - 05/16/10

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell tried a new line of attack against the president's high court nominee Sunday, asserting that she has been supportive of banning pamphlets and other campaign literature.

"Solicitor Kagan's office, in the initial hearing, argued that it'd be okay to ban books," the Kentucky Republican said on NBC's "Meet the Press. Sunday. "And then when there was a re-hearing, Solicitor Kagan herself, in her first Supreme Court argument, suggested that it might be okay to ban pamphlets. I think that's very troubling."

McConnell was referring to the government's argument in the controversial Citizens United case, in which the Supreme Court ruled that corporate funding in campaigns can't be limited by the First Amendment. In the initial hearing of the case, which took place just five days after Kagan was confirmed by the Senate, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart responded to a line of questioning by Chief Justice John Roberts about whether or not the law the government was arguing for could apply to a book that advocated a specific candidate by saying "We could prohibit the publication of the book."

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AmSpec - Citizens United We Stand - 05/07/10

March 24, 2009, was a turning point in the long-running battle to restrict political speech, aka "campaign finance reform." On that day, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, in which the conservative activist group Citizens United challenged the provisions of the McCain-Feingold law that had prohibited it from airing a documentary film, Hillary: The Movie, through video on demand within 30 days of any 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

In the course of the argument, Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, an experienced Supreme Court litigator, argued that a 1990 precedent, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, gave the government the power to limit any political communication funded by a corporation, even a nonprofit such as Citizens United. Justice Samuel Alito asked Stewart if that power would extend to censoring political books published by corporations. Stewart responded -- consistent with the government's position at all stages of the case -- that yes, it would. There was an audible hush -- if such a thing is possible -- in the court. Then Justice Alito, appearing to speak for the room, merely said, "I find that pretty incredible."

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The Hill - GOP brings in legal heavyweights to fight campaign finance bill by Susan Crabtree - 05/06/10

House Republicans stepped up their attacks on the Democrats’ campaign finance legislation, bringing in legal heavy-hitters to testify at a House Administration meeting.

Former U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson and Citizens United President Dave Bossie, whose group challenged the federal ban on political advertisements, testified before the committee Thursday on behalf of the Republicans.

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Politico - Dems launch Citizens United bill by Kenneth Vogel - 04/29/10
Citizens United President David N. Bossie: "This bill is nothing more than an incumbent protection bill that aims to chill free speech"

Democratic senators took to the steps of the Supreme Court on Thursday morning to introduce legislation intended to blunt the impact of the court's January decision, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which they said will open the floodgates to unlimited corporate and special interest spending on campaign advertising in the 2010 congressional midterm elections.

The bill and companion House legislation, which lawmakers intend to officially introduce later in the day, was endorsed by President Barack Obama, who in his State of the Union Address in January singled out the court for criticism for its ruling and urged Congress to act swiftly to address issues it raised. In a statement issued by the White House, he urged Congress to move quickly on the legislation, which he called "a critical step in restoring our government to its rightful owners: the American people."

The legislation includes provisions to limit political ad spending by companies that received government bailouts from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as well as those with government contracts or that are more than 20 percent foreign owned. The legislation will also give political parties access to reduced rate air time to respond to special interest ads, and heighten disclosure requirements, forcing groups airing certain ads to name their top five donors on screen and on their websites, as well as possibly forcing corporate CEO's to appear in the ads.

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Politico - Dems launch Citizens United bill by Kenneth Vogel - 04/29/10
Citizens United President David N. Bossie: "This bill is nothing more than an incumbent protection bill that aims to chill free speech"

Democratic senators took to the steps of the Supreme Court on Thursday morning to introduce legislation intended to blunt the impact of the court's January decision, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which they said will open the floodgates to unlimited corporate and special interest spending on campaign advertising in the 2010 congressional midterm elections.

The bill and companion House legislation, which lawmakers intend to officially introduce later in the day, was endorsed by President Barack Obama, who in his State of the Union Address in January singled out the court for criticism for its ruling and urged Congress to act swiftly to address issues it raised. In a statement issued by the White House, he urged Congress to move quickly on the legislation, which he called "a critical step in restoring our government to its rightful owners: the American people."

The legislation includes provisions to limit political ad spending by companies that received government bailouts from the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as well as those with government contracts or that are more than 20 percent foreign owned. The legislation will also give political parties access to reduced rate air time to respond to special interest ads, and heighten disclosure requirements, forcing groups airing certain ads to name their top five donors on screen and on their websites, as well as possibly forcing corporate CEO's to appear in the ads.

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Ranking Republican Dan Lungren Applauds SCOTUS Citizens United Decision


Wash Post - Citizens United challenges the strident side of Supreme Court ruling - 04/01/10

Fresh off a landmark victory in the U.S. Supreme Court, the conservative advocacy group Citizens United is trying to get around one part of the ruling it didn't like. The group's attorney, former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson, sent a letter to the Federal Election Commission on Monday arguing that Citizens United should not be subject to campaign-finance disclosure requirements because it is actually a "press entity" that produces and distributes documentary films.

The FEC exempts media organizations from campaign-finance laws even though many of them -- such as The Washington Post -- traffic heavily in political news and views. The FEC, Olson wrote, "should conclude that Citizens United's documentary film activities are covered by both the media and commercial transaction exceptions."

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Daily Caller – (Blackwell) Hail to the Chief Justice - 03/12/10

When the young John Roberts was confirmed as Chief Justice of the United States in 2005, he declined to put those gold stripes on his robes. They're the ones that the late William Rehnquist had devised to indicate his status as first among equals on the nation's high court. "I'll have to earn them," Roberts said modestly. He just did. He gave a powerful rejoinder this week to President Obama's unprecedented foray into demagoguery.

It's more than a tempest in a teapot. Last January, President Obama took the unheard of step of criticizing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling during his State of the Union address. With most of the black-robed Justices seated in front of him, Mr. Obama went out of his way to knock the court's 5-4 ruling in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission. The high court ruled, narrowly, that major parts of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law are unconstitutional. Mr. Obama stated, and liberal media outlets echoed his charge, that this would allow corporations and unions to give directly to campaigns.

The high court majority essentially found that you don't lose your First Amendment rights because you are a business, or a union. You can still praise or criticize a candidate for public office. The McCain-Feingold Act was one of the worst infringements of free speech since the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. In very practical terms, that law gave the New York Times, CBS News, and the increasingly rabid MSNBC free rein, while putting a muzzle on non-profits like Family Research Council, National Right to Life Committee, and the Sierra Club.

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Wash Post – (Eugene Robinson) John Roberts gets it right (for once) - 03/11/10

Chief Justice John Roberts is wrong about a lot of things — most things, actually — but he may be right when he suggests that he and his black-robed colleagues should give the State of the Union address a pass. Their presence looks like a tradition whose time has come and gone.

"To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I'm not sure why we're there," Roberts said Tuesday at the University of Alabama, elucidating the obvious. Politics? At the State of the Union? Let's all pause for a moment while we get over the shock.

Roberts was complaining about the moment in January's speech when President Obama blasted the court's anything-goes decision on campaign finance. Six justices were in attendance, including three who voted with the majority; Justice Samuel Alito couldn't keep himself from mouthing the words "not true" and shaking his head. Much comment ensued.

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Huff Post - Liberals Overreact to Citizens United by Jeff Norman - 03/11/10

Even biased judges sometimes decide cases correctly, and with free speech experts of all stripes applauding the Citizens United decision, it's far from apparent the Supreme Court falsely interpreted the First Amendment for political or ideological reasons.

Refuting conventional wisdom that the man who wrote the majority opinion was nefariously motivated, left-leaning constitutional scholar Jonathan Turley told Keith Olbermann: "[Justice Anthony] Kennedy is no corporate shill. He really believes in this. I've talked with him, and many people have talked with him. He does believe in the First Amendment aspects of this, and for him it is all about criminalizing speech. It's all about limiting speech." Liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald added: "If a settled proposition of law is sufficiently repugnant to the Constitution, then the Court is not only permitted, but required, to uproot it."

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CBS - White House Vs. Supreme Court: It's Getting Ridiculous by Jan Crawford - 03/11/10

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts address students at the University of Alabama Law School in Tuscaloosa, Ala., March 9, 2010. For the life of me, I just don't get why the White House continues to try to pick a fight with the Supreme Court. I've suggested before that perhaps it's a sign President Obama intends to tap an outsider when John Paul Stevens retires, so he can beat the drum that the Court is out of touch with everyday Americans.

But after Chief Justice John Roberts made some entirely reasonable remarks yesterday -- and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs just had to respond -- it's now getting ridiculous. Whether the White House has a short-term or long-term strategy or no strategy at all, it's flat-out absurd and ill-advised for the administration to think it should always have the last word. It's like my 6-year-old: "I don't LIKE your idea. I like MY idea."

It wasn't enough that Mr. Obama, for the first time in modern history, took a direct shot at the Supreme Court in his State of the Union address, when he slammed the justices for their recent campaign finance reform decision. Six of them looked on -- including the author of the opinion, key swing vote Anthony Kennedy -- while Democrats jumped up to whoop and holler.

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Fox Business - Washington Post Still Doesn't Understand Supreme Court Ruling by John Stossel - 02/17/10

Almost a month after the Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that Congress cannot restrict the ability of unions and corporations -- that is, groups of individuals pooling their resources -- to advertise on behalf of or in opposition to a political candidate, much of the media continue to distort the ruling and the law. This morning the Washington Post's editors approved this line:

[The] Supreme Court ruling allows corporations and unions to spend as much as they want on political campaigns...

It would be fine if the court had actually allowed that. Spending on political campaigns is a form a speech and the First Amendment does say, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech." But in fact, the court didn't allow that. Corporations and unions still face bans on direct contributions to candidates--they are explicitly not free to spend as much as they want on political campaigns. Invariably, the media describes this specific ruling in the broadest terms, as if the Supreme Court unleashed some wild beast upon our defenseless democracy. After reading such relentlessly false descriptions of what the court actually said, it comes as no surprise that the public apparently opposes the "ruling"...

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NYT - Justice Defends Ruling on Finance by Adam Liptak - 02/04/10

In expansive remarks at a law school in Florida, Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday vigorously defended the Supreme Court's recent campaign finance decision. And Justice Thomas explained that he did not attend State of the Union addresses — he missed the dust-up when President Obama used the occasion last week to criticize the court's decision — because the gatherings had turned so partisan.

Justice Thomas responded to several questions from students at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, Fla., concerning the campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. By a 5-to-4 vote, with Justice Thomas in the majority, the court ruled last month that corporations had a First Amendment right to spend money to support or oppose political candidates.

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Newsmax - Bossie Claims Court 'Victory' for Americans by Dan Weil - 02/03/10

The recent Supreme Court decision overturning some limits on campaign spending represents a major victory for the First Amendment, says Citizens United President David Bossie. Citizens United, which had been barred from advertising a documentary about Hillary Clinton, was the victor in the case, decided last month.

"This is a major victory for all Americans who believe in free speech," Bossie told Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella. "We took on this task, … because we felt strongly that we must stand up for free speech. We felt we must stop our slide down the slippery slope of criminalizing political speech, which is what Congress did."

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Politico: Obama 'wrong' on campaign finance by Sen. Orrin Hatch - 02/03/10

During his State of the Union address last week, President Barack Obama attacked the Supreme Court — with the justices sitting right in front of him — for its decision that will allow American corporations and labor unions to speak during election season. Whether or not the criticism was appropriate, it should at least have been correct. Unfortunately, this time he was flat wrong.

The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, or BCRA, bans election-related expenditures and communications by American corporations. Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, wanted to produce and advertise a movie critical of a 2008 presidential candidate and sued to argue that BCRA's speech restrictions violated the First Amendment. On Jan. 21, 2010, the Supreme Court agreed. "If the First Amendment has any force," the court said, "it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

That is what the case was about. Here is what it was not about: This case had nothing to do with contributions by anyone to political campaigns. The ban on such contributions by corporations, originally enacted in 1907 as the Tillman Act, remains untouched. This case had nothing to do with campaign-related spending of any kind by foreign individuals or corporations. The ban on such spending is similarly still in place.

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Politico - Hypocrisy in Citizens United chatter by David N. Bossie - 2/02/09

While the Supreme Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission did not lack for punditry to begin with, President Barack Obama's nearly unprecedented scolding of the court during his State of the Union address has pushed the Washington commentariat into overdrive. Instead of rehashing the president's (misleading at best) remarks, I think it's important that we take a step back and look at the fundamental issues behind this case.

Washington has a way of inducing selective amnesia in our elected representatives. Many states, including Illinois and Maryland, allow corporate contributions to state candidates. As an Illinois state senator, Obama accepted direct contributions from the corporate treasuries of Citigroup and London-based pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, among others. As a Maryland state legislator, Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, one of the more hysterical critics of the decision, accepted from business entities about 10 percent of his campaign funds during the four years leading up to his election to Congress.

If, as these detractors and their allies would have us believe, corporate money is by definition corrupting, why did they accept these funds when doing so benefited them? Note that the Citizens United ruling left intact the ban on corporate contributions to federal candidates, so contributions such as those Obama and Van Hollen took as state lawmakers remain illegal for federal office seekers.

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Manchester Union Leader - 02/01/10


Nat Journal - Citizens United Fallout Already Being Felt by Eliza Newlin Carney - 2/01/09

In the wake of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling to free up corporate political spending, First Amendment advocates have scoffed at the notion that Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission will drastically redefine elections.

Like Justice Samuel Alito during President Obama's State of the Union address, free speech defenders have collectively shaken their heads and denied that much will change. Predictions of massive corporate spending and political deregulation are just so much hysteria and hyperbole, the ruling's champions suggest.

But another landmark legal challenge, argued before a federal appeals court just eight days after the Citizens United ruling, suggests that election laws will, indeed, never be the same. During oral arguments in SpeechNow.org v. Federal Election Commission, several D.C. Circuit court judges sharply questioned existing limits on political action committees, citing Citizens United as an argument for deregulation.

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WSJ - The Media and Corporate Free Speech by James Taranto - 01/30/10
President Obama says the Supreme Court made a big mistake. The pre-eminent First Amendment expert disagrees.

I met Floyd Abrams the other evening at the midtown Manhattan headquarters of a multibillion-dollar corporation that a few days earlier had exercised its First Amendment rights to argue that corporations do not have First Amendment rights. I came to the New York Times Co. building not to look in on the competition, but to see the celebrated First Amendment lawyer speak on a panel about press freedom.

Mr. Abrams has represented the New York Times Co. from time to time, most notably in the landmark Pentagon Papers case of 1971. But he and his erstwhile client took opposite sides in the decision we had gotten together to discuss. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which the court decided last week in a 5-4 decision, invalidated federal laws that made certain political speech a crime.

Although Citizens United wasn't Mr. Abrams's case, "I took a special pleasure . . . in this ruling," he tells me over drinks following the panel. That's because it overturned a 2003 decision in a case he lost, McConnell v. FEC, in which a 5-4 majority upheld provisions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold law, including one that criminalized corporate funding of "electioneering communication" within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. Seven years later, with Justice Samuel Alito in the majority, the court reversed that holding.

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Hannity - Newt Gingrich Discusses Citizens United's Supreme Court Case - 01/29/10

Newt Gringrich discusses Citizens United's Supreme Court Case
Citizens United discussion starts at 6:45 in clip

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WSJ – (Editorial) Obama v. the Supremes - 01/29/10
Alito wins the oral, and factual, argument

In the case of Barack Obama v. Supreme Court of the United States, that was some oral argument on Wednesday night. With the Justices arrayed a few feet in front of him in the House chamber, President Obama blistered their recent decision defending free political speech for corporations and unions. As Democrats in Congress and Cabinet members rose and applauded around them, the Justices sat stern-faced, save for Samuel Alito, who was seen shaking his head and mouthing the words "Not true."

Bravo, Justice Alito.

We're not among those who think the Supreme Court is above criticism. Especially in recent decades as the judiciary has become more political, and has encroached on the powers of Congress and the executive, politicians in the other branches have an obligation to defend their powers. Mr. Obama may have exhibited bad manners in sandbagging the Justices without warning on national TV, but he has every right to disagree with their rulings.

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WaPo - Congress prepares for a battle over campaign finance by David S. Broder - 01/29/10

The sober, sprawling State of the Union address that President Obama delivered last week was marked by one extraordinary moment. It came when the president looked down at six robed members of the Supreme Court, seated directly in front of him, and criticized their recent 5 to 4 decision that he said "will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections."

While Democrats stood applauding his call on Congress to pass legislation narrowing the impact of the ruling, the TV cameras caught Justice Samuel Alito, one of the two George W. Bush appointees who made the reversal of precedent possible, apparently mouthing the words "Not true."

Such direct confrontations between the branches of the federal government are almost unprecedented, and they set the stage for what ought to be a serious debate. The day after, much of the discussion was focused narrowly on the question of whether Obama was correct in saying that foreign corporations would be unleashed on American elections by the justices' decision.

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Corrects President Obama About Citizens United Supreme Court Case


National Review - First Amendment 451 by Robert Costa- 01/29/10

David Bossie irritates President Obama. Bossie did not get the usual upturned chin or expletive-riddled call from Rahm Emanuel this week after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Citizens United, his non-profit corporation, in a landmark free-speech decision. Rather, Obama decided to take a potshot through a sharp-edged rant tucked into the State of the Union.

"With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections," Obama said. "Well, I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

Bossie's take on Obama's finger-wagging was similar to what Justice Samuel Alito mouthed, and similar to the analysis Bradley A. Smith and Shannen Coffin have presented on the Corner: "Not true." Foreign corporations, Bossie says, are prohibited from making contributions in connection with American elections, and that wasn't even at issue in the case. The president's anger over the Court's 5–4 decision, he adds, actually reveals something more troubling: Obama doesn't like it when someone tries to snatch power from the federal government and put it back in the hands of the American people.

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Palin/Hannity Discuss Justice Alito's 'Not True' Moment During SOTU


Wash Post - Alito's State of the Union moment by Robert Barnes - 01/28/10

Conservative legal groups said it was the president who was wrong.

"The President's swipe at the Supreme Court was a breach of decorum, and represents the worst of Washington politics -- scapegoating 'special interest' bogeymen for all that ails Washington in attempt to silence the diverse range of speakers in our democracy," said Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC member and chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics.

The group that started the lawsuit, Citizens United, also weighed in.

"President Obama's remarks tonight reflect a woeful disregard for the fundamental First Amendment rights of American citizens," said Citizens United President David N. Bossie.

But he added: "That being said, I absolutely support President Obama in his call for a ban on spending in American elections by foreign corporations. While I unreservedly support the rights of every American citizen to have their voice heard, there is no place for foreign actors in our political process."

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NYT – (Op-Ed) Stampede Toward Democracy by Jan Witold Baran - 01/26/10

In just seven years, the Supreme Court has declared most of the fabled McCain-Feingold law unconstitutional. The court has struck down the law's bans on contributions by minors, on independent spending by political parties and on issue ads within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election, as well as restrictions on "millionaire" candidates. With last week's ruling in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court has now declared that corporations and unions may spend money on political advertising that urges the election or defeat of a candidate for public office.

The reaction was swift and intense. Conservatives and libertarians praised the ruling's preservation of the First Amendment and freedom of speech. Liberals and reformers expressed horror. President Obama predicted a "stampede of special-interest money in our politics" and declared, "I can't think of anything more devastating to the public interest." (Disclosure: I filed a brief with the Supreme Court in support of Citizens United.)

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National Review - Defending Citizens United by Anthony Dick - 01/25/10

Bad arguments have been proliferating in the wake of this week's Citizens United case, which struck down restrictions on political expenditures by corporations and unions. The opinion leaves in place limits on campaign donations, but frees up corporations and unions to spend as much as they like to disseminate political messages. Here is a rogue's gallery of the most common arguments I've heard against the holding, followed by brief explanations of their profound misguidedness.

1) This 5–4 decision is a blatant example of judicial activism, and conservatives are hypocritical for supporting it. Judicial activism occurs when judges abandon constitutional or statutory meaning and impose their policy preferences instead. A decision that faithfully applies the First Amendment is not activism but rather ...

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Wash Times - BOSSIE: 'Congress shall make no law . . .' by David N. Bossie - 01/22/10

Writing for the Supreme Court of the United States in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission yesterday, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy noted that campaign-finance laws required that "a speaker wishing to avoid criminal-liability threats and the heavy costs of defending against FEC enforcement must ask a governmental agency for prior permission to speak."

Think about that for a moment: Citizen of the United States needed to seek permission from a government agency before speaking about a politician who ostensibly is a representative of the people. Not only that, but a citizen who spoke without government permission was at risk of a prison sentence.

In 2007, Citizens United Productions released a film entitled "Hillary The Movie."Naturally, we wanted to advertise our film and distribute it to those who wished to see it via cable "on-demand." In an unconscionable violation of our First Amendment rights, the government restricted us from doing so because the film and the advertisements that I produced referenced a candidate for federal office.

I was stunned by the government's decision. I believe that, above every other category of speech, political speech must be the most protected. If our right to political speech can be denied by the government, how are we to hold our representatives to that government accountable for their actions? If we are not permitted to speak about our own government, can it truly be considered "our" government?

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Hardball: New rules established for campaign financing - 01/21/10


Jan. 21: David Bossie of Citizens United talks about the new ruling by the Supreme Court to allow corporations to spend money to support or oppose political candidates and will most likely allow labor unions to do the same.


Rush Limbaugh on the Case - 01/21/10

Freedom is awaking from its coma today because of a huge, huge, huge Supreme Court decision -- huge. I cannot tell you how big this is. It's a 5-4 decision. The decision was written by Justice Kennedy. And what it does, it removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidate's campaigns. Meaning corporations and not-for-profits can spend any amount of money they want running ads and there's no limit as to when those ads can be run.

This turns over 100 years of precedent. You know how anti-corporatist the left is; you know how they hate corporations. This, folks, is causing ulcers. I can't tell you what this decision is doing today to these leftists who just a year ago, they had such high hopes that they're going to have every CEO in jail and every soldier in jail and it's just in one year, because the people of this country are not socialists. The people of this country still have roots to freedom and entrepreneurism and liberty, and nothing -- the left, Obama -- nothing can snuff that out.

The Supreme Court decision is a defeat. I'll tell you, it's a defeat, ladies and gentlemen, for the fascists, the statists who seek to control our property, our bodies, and our speech. It is a defeat for Senator McCain. The muzzle is off the American people now because they, in fact, can spend the money on advocacy ads prior to the general and primary elections. It is a 100-year-old precedent that has been overturned. It is solid in that respect.

Citizens United produced an advocacy commercial about Hillary Clinton, which they wanted to run before the primaries. The question was whether it violated McCain-Feingold's ban as some kind of a political commercial. The Supreme Court said such advocacy by Citizens United and other groups is protected constitutional speech, but the opinion addresses more than that. The court says, "The law provides an outright ban backed by criminal and civil sanctions, including nonprofit corporations to either expressly advocate the election or defeat of candidates or to broadcast electioneering communications within 30 days of a primary, 60 days of a general election." These would be felonies and the court struck these down. The court struck down all the limits on where you can advertise, when you can advertise, and how much you can spend on this advertisement.

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Wash Post - Citizens United used 'Hillary: The Movie' to take on McCain-Feingold by Philip Rucker - 01/21/10

David Bossie, a veteran Republican campaign operative who made his mark investigating the Clintons, thought his group could offer a conservative answer to Michael Moore's successful films. After Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" premiered in 2004, Bossie's Citizens United group released "Celsius 41.11."

And after it became clear that Bossie's longtime enemy Hillary Rodham Clinton would run for president, Citizens United released another flick: "Hillary: The Movie." Featuring a who's-who cast of right-wing commentators, the 2008 film takes viewers on a savaging journey through Clinton's scandals. The sole compliment about the then-senator comes from conservative firebrand Ann Coulter: "Looks good in a pantsuit."

But "Hillary: The Movie" never became a blockbuster. The Federal Election Commission restricted Citizens United's ability to advertise the film during the 2008 primary season, a decision that Bossie and other conservative activists saw as a threat to their freedom of speech.

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Variety - The 'Hillary' effect by Ted Johnson - 01/22/10

Bossie's legal team, led by Ted Olson, saw little difference between "Hillary, the Movie," and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11," the documentary critical of George W. Bush that ran in the months before the 2004 presidential campaign.

But in 2005, federal election officials, acting on a challenge from Bossie himself, said that Moore's movie was different in that it was not expressly advocating for the defeat of Bush in the election, and ruled that it fell within the exemption for "commercial transactions." In other words, "Fahrenheit" was made for the purpose of selling tickets to see it, not to influence a campaign.

While journalists and media outlets also are exempt from restrictions, Bossie's challenge got the support from a number of reporters organizations and First Amendment advocates.

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NYT - Justices, 5-4, Reject Corporate Spending Limit by Adam Liptak - 01/22/10

WASHINGTON — Overruling two important precedents about the First Amendment rights of corporations, a bitterly divided Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that the government may not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

The 5-to-4 decision was a vindication, the majority said, of the First Amendment's most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech. The dissenters said that allowing corporate money to flood the political marketplace would corrupt democracy.

The ruling represented a sharp doctrinal shift, and it will have major political and practical consequences. Specialists in campaign finance law said they expected the decision to reshape the way elections were conducted. Though the decision does not directly address them, its logic also applies to the labor unions that are often at political odds with big business.

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NYT - Lobbyists Get Potent Weapon in Campaign Finance Ruling by David D. Kirkpatrick - 01/22/10

But David Bossie, the conservative activist who brought the case to defend his campaign-season promotion of the documentary "Hillary: The Movie," said he was looking forward to rolling out his next film in time for the midterm elections.

Titled "Generation Zero," the movie features the television host Lou Dobbs and lays much of the blame for the recent financial collapse on the Democrats.

"Now we have a free hand to let people know it exists," Mr. Bossie said.

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NYT - The Court's Blow to Democracy - 01/22/10

With a single, disastrous 5-to-4 ruling, the Supreme Court has thrust politics back to the robber-baron era of the 19th century. Disingenuously waving the flag of the First Amendment, the court's conservative majority has paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding.

Congress must act immediately to limit the damage of this radical decision, which strikes at the heart of democracy.

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AP - Justices Reject Campaign Finance Limits - 01/21/10

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations may spend freely to support or oppose candidates for president and Congress, easing decades-old limits on their participation in federal campaigns.

By a 5-4 vote, the court on Thursday overturned a 20-year-old ruling that said corporations can be prohibited from using money from their general treasuries to pay for their own campaign ads. The decision, which almost certainly will also allow labor unions to participate more freely in campaigns, threatens similar limits imposed by 24 states.

It leaves in place a prohibition on direct contributions to candidates from corporations and unions.

Critics of the stricter limits have argued that they amount to an unconstitutional restraint of free speech, and the court majority apparently agreed.

"The censorship we now confront is vast in its reach," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinion, joined by his four more conservative colleagues.

However, Justice John Paul Stevens, dissenting from the main holding, said, "The court's ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation."

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor joined Stevens' dissent, parts of which he read aloud in the courtroom.

The justices also struck down part of the landmark McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that barred union- and corporate-paid issue ads in the closing days of election campaigns.

Advocates of strong campaign finance regulations have predicted that a court ruling against the limits would lead to a flood of corporate and union money in federal campaigns as early as this year's midterm congressional elections.

The decision, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, removes limits on independent expenditures that are not coordinated with candidates' campaigns.

The case also does not affect political action committees, which mushroomed after post-Watergate laws set the first limits on contributions by individuals to candidates. Corporations, unions and others may create PACs to contribute directly to candidates, but they must be funded with voluntary contributions from employees, members and other individuals, not by corporate or union treasuries.

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AP - Super Bowl-style corporate ads for candidates? by Sharon Theimer - 01/10/10

Possibly coming soon to your TV screen: election-season Super Bowl-style ads promoting congressional and presidential candidates, paid for by some of the nation's largest corporations.

It may happen. For decades, business and union money has been largely shut out of state, congressional and presidential campaigns. The Supreme Court may change that in a big way.

The court has raised a range of high-stakes possibilities that could let corporations, unions and wealthy individuals pour money into elections in time for this year's congressional races, not to mention the 2012 presidential contest. A ruling is expected as early as Tuesday.

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LAT – (Op-Ed) Giving corporations an outsized voice in elections by Monica Youn - 01/10/10

Corporations are pitching a bizarre product -- a radical vision of the 1st Amendment. It would give corporations rather than voters a central role in our electoral process by treating corporate political spending as protected speech. If this vision becomes reality, businesses and other big-money players will spend billions either hyping their preferred candidates or running attack ads against elected officials who don't support their preferred agenda. Voters will be forced into a couch-potato role, mere viewers of the electoral spectacle bought and paid for by wealthy companies.

The Supreme Court's decision in the hotly anticipated campaign finance reform case Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission -- which may be announced as early as Tuesday -- will show whether a majority of the Roberts court is buying their argument.

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NYT - Rulings Against Spending Caps May Start Flood of Election Ads by David D. Kirkpatrick - 01/09/10

WASHINGTON — Even before a landmark Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance law expected within days, a series of other court decisions is reshaping the political battlefield by freeing corporations, unions and other interest groups from many of the restrictions on their advertising about issues and candidates.

Legal experts and political operatives say the cases roll back campaign spending rules to the years before Watergate. The end of decades-old restrictions could unleash a torrent of negative advertisements, help cash-poor Republicans in a pivotal year and push President Obama to bring in more money for his party.

If the Supreme Court, as widely expected, rules against core elements of the existing limits, Democrats say they will try to enact new laws to reinstate the restrictions in time for the midterm elections in November. And advocates of stricter campaign finance laws say they hope the developments will prod the president to fulfill a campaign promise to update the presidential campaign financing system, even though it would diminish his edge as incumbent.

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'Why the delay' on Supreme Court's campaign-finance case? - 12/29/09

There was some irony in Stevens' anecdote, told as all the current justices sat in the court's Great Hall looking at the bust. They have another fast-track case before them, involving a less momentous yet still closely watched dispute, over campaign-finance regulation. Some hitch has emerged in the dispute that the justices heard in a special sitting in September and that could change governments' ability to regulate corporate and labor union spending in political races.

The court recently left for a month-long winter recess — without a decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. That confounded legal analysts, including law professor Richard Hasen, who had predicted in the fall that the court would get the case done before 2010 to clarify constitutional rules at the beginning of the upcoming congressional election cycle.

"Why the delay?" asks Hasen, an election law specialist at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. "It's become like a parlor game."

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McClatchy - Supreme Court has saved toughest cases for second half by Michael Doyle - 12/28/09

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court entered its holiday intermission with the starkest drama put off until the second act. When justices return on Jan. 11 for their next oral arguments, they'll barely have scratched the surface of the 2009 term. They've issued only four decisions so far, none dealing with the cases for which the term is likely to be remembered.

With more than 50 scheduled cases yet to be heard or decided, and other cases still to be added, some of these pending questions are pretty fundamental.

Does the government violate the First Amendment when it bans corporations from spending their own money on political campaigns? Do cities and states violate the Second Amendment when they ban gun possession?

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Court Keeps Campaigns in Suspense by Adam Liptak - 12/14/09

The Supreme Court closed up shop for the year on Monday without ruling in a major campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

After the court heard a second argument in the case at a special summer in September, many election-law specialists expected a prompt decision based on the law at issue and the court's own practices.

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, part of which is at risk in the case, requires the court "to expedite to the greatest possible extent" challenges to the law. In 2003, the court managed to decide a much more complicated case under the law, in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission. That case was also argued in September; it was decided by early December.

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SCOTUS leaves Washington in lurch by Kenneth P. Vogel - 12/14/09

The U.S. Supreme Court has put off until next year a ruling that could remake the political landscape for the 2010 midterm elections, and that's making things tricky for those eagerly awaiting the decision, including political professionals, regulators, advocacy groups and even the White House.

The case in question, which was brought by the conservative non-profit group Citizens United against the Federal Election Commission, challenges decades of law limiting corporate and union spending on elections. It could fundamentally reshape how money gets raised and spent, and spur a renewed effort to limit the flow of money into politics, which advocates for tougher restrictions predict will have President Barack Obama's backing.

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LAT - Still no decision on bombshell Supreme Court campaign finance case - 12/08/09

It was thought to be coming today, a Supreme Court decision on Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission, a case that could have a huge impact on how campaigns are financed.

During the 2008 presidential election, Citizens United, a conservative group, aired a feature-length TV movie critical of then-candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. The FEC barred the pay-for-view movie from the airwaves because it was financed with corporate campaign funds. The court is weighing whether that was the right call, or whether corporations can now fund independent political messages. It even broadened the question to look at whether the court should overrule prior cases that upheld restrictions on independent corporate or union expenditures.

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WSJ - Campaign-Finance Ruling Looms - by Jess Bravin - 12/08/09

Montana voters, fed up with the grip of out-of-state mining interests on local politicians, passed an initiative in 1912 banning corporate spending on candidates for state office. As soon as Tuesday, that law -- and similar ones in nearly half the states -- could be struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court for infringing corporations' free-speech rights.

None of those state laws specifically were at issue when the court agreed to hear Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which challenged provisions of the federal McCain-Feingold Act. The 2002 law built on a longstanding ban on direct corporate giving to House, Senate and presidential candidates by reining in so-called issue advertisements, such as television spots a corporation takes out on its own to help a particular politician's election or defeat.

Under the law, corporations and unions may not use general funds for such advertisements within 30 days of a primary or 60 days of a general election. Instead, they must channel their electioneering through political action committees that solicit contributions from executives, employees, shareholders and other affiliates of the corporation.

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Bossie: McCain-Feingold Law 'Unconstitutional' by John Rossomando - 12/08/09

The McCain-Feingold campaign finance law's apparent threat to free speech has one conservative political action committee taking its case to the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to get it tossed out.

David Bossie, whose group Citizens United found itself hauled into federal court by the Federal Election Commission over the content of its film "Hillary: The Movie," told Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella the legislation has been used in ways its chief sponsors never dreamed of.

"It affects all of our films, how we are able to advertise and how we are able to educate the American people about our film," Bossie said. "It is a ridiculous thing in my opinion that is part of the law of unintended consequences, because I don't believe for one minute that many U.S senators and congressmen, when they voted on McCain-Feingold, thought to themselves, 'Ah, filmmaking will be affected by this law.'"

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Feingold: In Campaign Finance Case, High Court Could Turn Elections Into 'NASCAR Races' by Matthew Murray - 10/21/09

With an important Supreme Court campaign finance decision looming, sponsors of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 rejoined on the Senate floor Wednesday afternoon to warn the judicial branch not to strip away corporate restrictions on political activity.

"I certainly hope the court steps back from the brink," said Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.). "Our elections would become like NASCAR races — underwritten by companies." He continued: "Only in this case, the corporate underwriters wouldn't just be seeking publicity, they would be seeking laws and policies that the candidates have the power to provide."

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Examiner - Ban on Small-Business Political Bucks Is Unconstitutional by Allison R. Hayward - 10/5/09

In the reargument of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, several Supreme Court justices made note of the contested history of the corporate and labor expenditure ban. In part they drew from my work in this area, which shows that the cited history on which modern campaign finance restrictions generally rest is misleading in important ways.

Counsel for the intervenors, Seth Waxman, contended at that argument that there was little question that bench and bar always understood the expenditure ban (and the preceding ban on corporate expenditure) was constitutional.

My research contradicts Waxman's point. In addition to material already available in this context, I recently reviewed the archives of an interesting — but long-forgotten — series of prosecutions of corporations for making political contributions. In those materials, I found clear indication that notwithstanding political enthusiasm for the prosecution, both U.S. attorneys involved had doubts about the constitutionality of their position.

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LAT – (Op-Ed) Justice Sonia Sotomayor's free-speech tests by Jonathan Turley - 10/05/09

The start of the U.S. Supreme Court's fall term is always a much-anticipated event. This year, it is likely to receive more attention than usual, with a new justice being seated and conjecture that another plans to resign.

David H. Souter is no longer on the court, and this will be the first term for his replacement, Justice Sonia Sotomayor. It may be the last term for Justice John Paul Stevens, liberal icon of the court. The growing speculation that Stevens plans to retire next year was fueled by his recent decision not to select a full complement of clerks for 2010 -- a strong signal that he doesn't intend to remain on the bench.

For the most part, however, all eyes will be on Sotomayor. Most of the court handicappers will be watching for early signs of how she might depart from the liberal voting record of her predecessor. Originally a Republican nominee to the trial court (though later put on the appellate court by President Clinton), Sotomayor was suggested as a nominee for President George W. Bush and has a more conservative voting record than Souter. If she votes the way she voted on the appellate court, liberals will lose ground with her selection.

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US News - Campaign Finance Laws Under Siege by Robert Schlesinger - 9/30/09

Remember campaign finance reform? A long time ago (way back in 2002), in a political world far, far away, Democrats and insurgent Republicans defied congressional rulers to pass the so-called McCain-Feingold law. It was signed, reluctantly, by a holding-his-nose President Bush. And then, the following year, the Supreme Court substantially upheld it in McConnell v. FEC. Cue the celebrations among the forces of do-goodery and roll the credits—this film's done.

But like any good story, it's getting a sequel. You could call the first round Campaign Finance Wars (Arizona Sen. John McCain compared himself to Luke Skywalker, and archnemesis Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky GOP senator whose name graces the key 2003 case, embraced the sobriquet Darth Vader). Get ready for the Empire Strikes Back. Quietly, but with gathering force, opponents of campaign finance laws have laid siege to the election funding system that has been constructed to combat the corrupting influence that money can have in politics. Not simply recent reforms like the prohibition on using nonregulated cash (known more commonly as "soft money") to influence campaigns but also more established rules like strictures against corporations and labor unions using their funds and limits on coordinated spending between parties and candidates. I have a bad feeling about this.

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New York Times Editorial - 9/22/09

The question at the heart of one of the biggest Supreme Court cases this year is simple: What constitutional rights should corporations have? To us, as well as many legal scholars, former justices and, indeed, drafters of the Constitution, the answer is that their rights should be quite limited — far less than those of people. This Supreme Court, the John Roberts court, seems to be having trouble with that. It has been on a campaign to increase corporations' legal rights — based on the conviction of some conservative justices that businesses are, at least legally, not much different than people. Now the court is considering what should be a fairly narrow campaign finance case, involving whether Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, had the right to air a slashing movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton during the Democratic primary season. There is a real danger that the case will expand corporations' rights in ways that would undermine the election system.

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WSJ Law Blog - Legal Liberals Ponder How Best to Lose by Ashby Jones - 9/15/09

Sonia Sotomayor's voting record on the Supreme Court may ultimately reveal itself to be left of the man she replaced, David Souter. But at least for the immediate future, that fact isn't likely to give much solace to lawyers on the political left. Although Justice Anthony Kennedy might "cross the aisle" from time to time, he's more often than not casting his vote with the four more conservative justices.

So, perhaps a bit like Republicans in Congress, for left-leaning Supreme Court advocates, it's time to hunker down and play defense.

How does that happen? Rick Hasen, an election-law specialist at Loyola Law School, has a piece in Slate on Tuesday which maps out the key strategic points that the liberals might use to try to minimize their losses.

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OMB Watch - Supreme Court Rehears Citizens United Case; Decision Could Impact Nonprofits - 9/15/09

Citizens United, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, developed and sought to run a film about candidate Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential primary. The group also wanted to promote the film with several ads. The highly critical movie was partially funded by corporate contributions, which the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said was a violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). In a federal lawsuit recently reheard by the U.S. Supreme Court, Citizens United charges that ads for the film should not be subject to donor disclosure and disclaimer requirements and that the BCRA provisions enforced by the FEC are unconstitutional.

BCRA, sponsored by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Russ Feingold (D-WI), prevents corporations (including nonprofit organizations) and labor unions from using general treasury funds to pay for any "electioneering communications" – broadcast messages that refer to a federal candidate 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.

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Minnesota Daily - Hillary and the High Court by Jake Parsley - 9/15/09

The U.S. Supreme Court kicked off their fall term a little early last Wednesday, and the center of attention was none other than current Secretary of State and American political mainstay Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Well, sort of. Clinton herself wasn't there, but the arguments centered on a political documentary about Clinton's life produced by a nonprofit corporation called Citizens United.

According to the Citizens United's own court filings, the film, entitled "Hillary: The Movie," is a biographical documentary that "presents a critical assessment of Sen. Clinton's record as a U.S. senator and as first lady in order to educate viewers about her political background." Citizens United planned to pay cable companies to broadcast the film before and during the 2008 presidential primary elections.

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Bradenton Herald/St. Louis Post Dispatch - High Court Should Not Head Wrong Way on Campaign Cash - 9/16/09

On Wednesday morning last week, a few hours before President Barack Obama's speech to Congress on health care reform, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that indirectly explains why the issue has become so controversial.

The case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, is about campaign finance laws, not health care. Specifically, it's about whether Citizens United, a conservative activist group that produced a movie attacking then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., during the 2008 presidential primary campaign, violated a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law that prohibits corporations, as well as unions, from paying for "electioneering communications" in the 30 days before a primary election.

It calls for a narrow ruling, but judging from the oral arguments, a court majority seems inclined to use it to throw out historic restrictions against direct corporate and union contributions to political campaigns. Indeed, oral arguments in Citizens United first were heard in March, but the court ordered a rare rehearing on broader constitutional issues and scheduled a rare September hearing ahead of its traditional start of session on the first Monday in October.

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Sacramento Bee – (Editorial) Supreme Court to decide whether to reshape how campaign finance is regulated - 9/15/09

The electorate's about to see how modest Chief Justice John Roberts' court really is. In a case that started out as a dispute over a movie about presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Supreme Court just held an unusual second round of arguments to decide whether to reshape the way campaign finance is regulated.

The justices rarely hear arguments in a case more than once, and even less often in a special session outside the regular October-June term. But in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the court asked lawyers to debate something the litigants hadn't raised: whether to overturn decisions that limit corporate spending to influence federal elections.

The justices also heard from lawyers for Sens. John McCain and Russ Feingold, authors of the campaign-finance law whose electioneering and reporting provisions are at issue, and the law's chief opponent, Sen. Mitch McConnell.

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Charlotte Observer – (Op-Ed) Corporate interests, unlimited by Jack Betts - 9/15/09

If news predictions are accurate, the U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of undoing one of the key underpinnings of election campaign regulation that have helped North Carolina elections, and those in a number of other states, avoid the corrosive influence of special-interest money in politics.

Not ban the corrosive influence of special-interest money, you understand, but at least narrow its impact.

Those who follow the court's oral arguments closely believe the Supreme Court is about to start unlacing the cords that have bound corporate interests from freely participating in the financing of political campaigns. This state's policy goes back more than seven decades.

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Asheville Citizens Times – (Op-Ed) A public campaign funding solution by Daniel Weeks - 9/15/09

When the United States Supreme Court today rehears the campaign finance case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC), it will be calling into question no less than sixty years of established precedent limiting corporate spending in federal elections.

The case pits conservative advocate Citizens United, famous for its 2008 video decrying then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, against FEC-enforced limits on corporate spending in federal elections. Defenders of the law point out that loosening restrictions on corporate spending will have a profound effect on the distribution of political speech and power in American democracy, favoring wealthy special interests at the expense of ordinary citizens. Their concerns are well-founded in current campaign practice.

But surprisingly absent from today's contentious debate is a recognition that the legitimate aims of both sides -- preventing corruption and preserving freedom of speech -- are not, in fact, at odds under a positively-constructed campaign finance system. Voluntary public funding of federal elections expands free speech for serious, hardworking candidates, irrespective of wealth, without limiting political expression by independent groups.

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(Editorial) Campaign laws and free speech - 9/14/09

When McCain-Feingold campaign finance was passed in 2002, its stated intention was to take money and corruption out of politics. In both these regards, it has failed.

In the meantime, its ambiguous and complex provisions have let loose a number of unintended consequences with a negative and chilling effect on free speech. So we are relieved that the Supreme Court is revisiting the issue. We hope this time around the court will prune the impact of campaign finance laws and relegate them to a more proper role.

At the center of this case is a blistering 2007 political documentary about then-candidate Hillary Clinton titled "Hillary The Movie." The movie was produced by a group called Citizens United and was banned from the airwaves because McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibits corporations from funding political speech. Although a nonprofit corporation, Citizens United was still classified as a corporation.

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Journal Editorial Report Transcript - 9/13/09

Gigot: The Supreme Court, joined for the first time by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, heard arguments this week in a case that could strike a historic blow for political free speech and against campaign finance restrictions. The case involves a documentary made by a conservative group last year about then-senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Funded by a group called Citizens United, "Hillary: The Movie" was intended to be shown on cable TV during the primary season, and that got it caught in the net of campaign finance laws, such as McCain-Feingold, that control political advertising. A federal court ruled that the film is a thinly veiled political attack ad and thus restricted by those campaign laws.

We're back with Dan Henninger. Also joining us, OpinionJournal.com editor James Taranto and senior editorial page writer Collin Levy.

Well, Collin, you listened to the oral arguments at the court this week. Are we poised for five justices overturning these precedents?

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(Op-Ed) Free Speech, Now that Speech Is Freeby Gordon Crovitz - 9/13/09

The equivalent of the health-care debate a few years ago was the battle over the McCain-Feingold law, which was supposed to be the most important political reform in a generation. Instead, technology has already made this law outdated.

McCain-Feingold, passed in 2002, limited spending on political advocacy by corporations and unions. In the era of YouTube and Facebook, the notion that anyone or any institution can dominate political debate is quaint at best.

After last week's Supreme Court argument, key parts of McCain-Feingold seem likely to be overturned. The justices are legal experts, not technologists, but in protecting constitutional rights, they know they are operating in a very different information environment than existed earlier in the decade.

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DesMoines Register - Free speech is for corporations, too - 9/12/09

The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday broke from its traditional October start date to hear arguments in a case involving a documentary movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton during the 2008 presidential primary. The court invited both parties to address the question of whether a federal law on corporate campaign spending is constitutional, suggesting the justices are prepared to strike down efforts by Congress and state legislatures to silence certain political-advocacy groups.

That is precisely what the court should do.

At the heart of this case is the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform law, which was aimed at curbing the influence of big money in political campaigns. It was no surprise that Congress fashioned the law in a way that protects incumbents - by, for example, limiting fundraising by individual candidates who might threaten members of Congress who rake in piles of money from special interests.

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From McCain-Feingold to Madison by George Will - 9/13/09

Last March, during the Supreme Court argument concerning the Federal Election Commission's banning of a political movie, several justices were aghast. Suddenly and belatedly they saw the abyss that could swallow the First Amendment.

Justice Antonin Scalia was "a little disoriented" and Justice Samuel Alito said "that's pretty incredible." Chief Justice John Roberts said: "If we accept your constitutional argument, we're establishing a precedent that you yourself say would extend to banning the book" -- a hypothetical 500-page book containing one sentence that said "vote for" a particular candidate.

What shocked them, but should not have, were statements by a government lawyer who was only doing his professional duty with ruinous honesty -- ruinous to his cause. He was defending the mare's nest of uncertainties that federal campaign finance law has made, and the mess the court made in 2003 when, by affirming the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold's further speech restrictions, it allowed Congress to regulate speech by and about people running for Congress.

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Nat. Law Journal - Pro-Business Ruling Likely in High Court Campaign Finance Case by Tony Mauro - 9/10/09

A majority of the U.S. Supreme Court appeared poised Wednesday to reverse or limit a line of precedents with roots -- some more than a century old -- that has allowed the government to ban corporate and union expenditures in election campaigns.

After an extraordinary 90 minutes of oral argument in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, it seemed likely that the Court, swayed by arguments in favor of First Amendment rights for corporations, was ready to embark on a new course that critics say could unleash a flood of corporate wealth into elections that are already awash in more regulated kinds of campaign spending.

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Wall St. Journal - Court Debates Campaign Law by Jess Bravin and T.W. Farnam - 9/10/09

The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday over whether government limits on corporate and union political spending violate free-speech rights, in a case that could prove pivotal in a longstanding constitutional debate.

The court gave no explanation for scheduling the unusual summer argument a month before the customary start of its term. It was seen as a signal that the conservative majority could be ready to strike down key aspects of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law and supporting precedents that are the foundations for current restrictions on corporate and union election spending.

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Wall St. Journal - Free Speech, Take Two - 9/9/09

Hillary Clinton may end up the accidental heroine in the battle to reassert First Amendment rights over restrictions on political speech. Yesterday, the Supreme Court heard a historic reargument in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and the Justices have a chance to revisit two of their greatest offenses against the Constitution.

The case involves a political documentary made during last year's Presidential primaries about then-Senator Clinton called "Hillary: The Movie." It wasn't what you'd call a glowing portrayal. Funded by a group called Citizens United, the film was intended to be shown on cable TV during the primary season, a profile that got it caught in the net of campaign finance reform laws that control political advertising.

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Wash Post - High Court's Conservatives Skeptical of Election Law by Robert Barnes - 9/10/09

Conservative members of the Supreme Court indicated Wednesday that they could not reconcile government restrictions on corporate spending in elections with constitutional protections of free speech and may rule broadly to strike what has been a long-standing fixture of campaign finance law.

A majority of the court seemed impatient with an increasingly complicated federal scheme intended to curb the role of corporations, unions and special interest groups in elections. The laws, former solicitor general Theodore B. Olson told the court, instead "smothered" First Amendment rights and "criminalized" free speech.

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New York Times - Day at Supreme Court Augurs a Victory on Political Speech, but How Broad? by Adam Liptak - 9/10/09

There seemed little question after the argument in an important campaign finance case at the Supreme Court on Wednesday that the makers of a slashing political documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton were poised to win. The open issue was just how broad that victory would be.

The argument was extraordinary in its timing, length and participants. It took place during the court's summer break, almost a month before the start of the new term in October; lasted more than 90 minutes instead of the usual hour; and featured the Supreme Court debuts of Justice Sonia Sotomayor and the solicitor general, Elena Kagan.

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AP - Court Skeptical of Limits on Businesses, Unions by Mark Sherman - 9/9/09

The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it may let businesses and unions spend freely to help their favored candidates in time for next year's elections. Such a step could roll back a century of attempts to restrain the power of corporate treasuries in American politics.

The justices cut short their summer recess for a lively special argument that indicated the court's conservative skeptics of campaign finance laws have the upper hand over its liberals, including new Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

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Wash Times - Justices Challenge Campaign Fund Limits by Matthew Mosk - 9/10/09

A majority of Supreme Court justices sharply challenged a central element of federal election law Wednesday, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. taking the lead in aggressively questioning whether long-standing restrictions on corporate and union campaign spending run afoul of the First Amendment right to free speech.

With Justice Sonia Sotomayor making her high court debut, the chief justice was unrelenting in his exchanges with new Solicitor General Elena Kagan, calling elements of the law "extraordinarily paternalistic" and comparing the Federal Election Commission's role in regulating campaign spending to that of Big Brother.

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LV Review Journal - Book Banners? (Editorial) - 9/10/09

When it comes to the unusual Supreme Court rehearing Wednesday in the case involving campaign finance reform, free speech and "Hillary: The Movie," the crux of the issue was laid bare during the original arguments in March.

Citing McCain-Feingold's restrictions on independent political advertising near election time, an appeals court had upheld a Federal Election Commission ruling that the "Hillary" movie -- a thinly veiled conservative attack on Hillary Clinton -- could not air within 30 days of a presidential primary.
The producer sued, and the case made it to the high court.

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USA Today - Protect Free Speech Without Gutting Campaign Limits (Editorial) - 9/10/09

One reason campaign-finance law is so controversial is that it tries to reconcile two fundamentally irreconcilable goals. How do you protect the First Amendment's broad guarantee of free speech — particularly political speech — but still put reasonable limits on election spending by corporations, lest their enormous wealth corrupt and distort the system?

There is no easy answer, which was clear at the Supreme Court on Wednesday as justices tried to decide how to apply the law to a 90-minute documentary called Hillary: The Movie. The harshly critical film was made by the conservative group Citizens United, which wanted to show it via on-demand cable TV during last year's presidential race.

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LA Times - Supreme Court Hears Arguments for Corporate Funding of Candidates by David Savage - 9/10/09

The Supreme Court's conservative bloc sounded poised Wednesday to strike down on free-speech grounds a 102-year-old ban against corporations spending large amounts of money to elect or defeat congressional and presidential candidates.

If the justices were to issue such a ruling in the next few months, it could reshape American politics, beginning with the congressional campaign in 2010. Big companies and industries -- and possibly unions as well -- could fund campaign ads to support or defeat members of Congress.

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NRO - McCain-Feingold Must Be Struck Down [David Bossie and Michael Boos] - 9/9/09

In Federalist 10, James Madison wrote: "Liberty is to faction what air is to fire, an aliment without which it instantly expires. But it could not be less folly to abolish liberty, which is essential to political life, because it nourishes faction, than it would be to wish the annihilation of air, which is essential to animal life, because it imparts to fire its destructive agency." This is precisely why the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech." The Framers' clear intent was first and foremost to protect political speech.

Today, in a rare summer session, the Supreme Court heard arguments as to whether it should overrule its previous decisions in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (1990) and McConnell v. FEC (2003) — specifically, in the latter case, the part that addresses the facial validity of section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, more commonly known as McCain-Feingold.

In 2008, Citizens United, a grass-roots advocacy group, produced a movie called Hillary about Sen. Hillary Clinton, who was then seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. The FEC ruled that video-on-demand distribution of Hillary would violate McCain-Feingold, which, among other things, prohibits certain types of political speech within 30 days of a primary election if the speech is financed by a corporation. Citizens United is a not-for-profit corporation, but in the government's interpretation of the statute, all corporate money is banned.

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AP - Supreme Court receptive to freer election spending by Mark Sherman and Pete Yost - 9/9/09

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court signaled Wednesday it may let businesses and unions spend freely to help their favored political candidates in time for next year's elections.

In a case that began with a movie attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton, newly seated Justice Sonia Sotomayor jumped right into the questioning. She appeared skeptical about taking the far-reaching step of lifting the ban, a move urged on the court by a lawyer for a group that made the 90-minute movie that sought to undermine Clinton's presidential ambitions.

The focus of the case will be on whether two conservatives, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, are willing to overrule earlier decisions that had upheld the restrictions.

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SCOTUS Blog - Analysis: Two precedents in jeopardy - 9/9/09

Analysis
If supporters of federal curbs on political campaign spending by corporations were counting on Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., and Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., to hesitate to strike down such restrictions, they could take no comfort from the Supreme Court's 93-minute hearing Wednesday on that historic question. Despite the best efforts of four other Justices to argue for ruling only very narrowly, the strongest impression was that they had not convinced the two members of the Court thought to be still open to that approach. At least the immediate prospect was for a sweeping declaration of independence in politics for companies and advocacy groups formed as corporations.

The Court probed deeply into Congress' reasoning in its decades-long attempt to restrict corporate influence in campaigns for the Presidency and Congress, in a special sitting to hear a second time the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (08-205). At issue was whether the Court was ready to overturn two of its precedents — one from 1990, the other from 2003 — upholding such limitations.

From all appearances, not one of the nine Justices — including the newest Justice, Sonia Sotomayor — appeared to move away from what their positions had been expected in advance to be. In her first argument, Sotomayor fervently joined in the effort to keep any resulting decision narrow — seemingly, the minority position but one she had been assumed to hold.

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CSPAN3: Ted Olson and David Bossie (Reaction to Supreme Court Hearing) - 9/9/09

TED OLSON: this is the person behind citizen united and the person that created ""hillary, the movie"" which we talked about today in the supreme court.

DAVID BOSSIE: thank you. thank you, ted. first of all, it's an incredible day today. to have gone through this literally we began this pross back in 2004. so to five or six years later, to be here on the steps of the supreme court, an incredible hands, ted olson and his team are just the greatest lawyers i could ever hope for. i have been so grateful at every turn over the last year or so, to be in their capable hands. and after the argument today, we look forward to our vindication. citizens united is a group like many others, across the country, and as ted pointedutn our briefs and in court today, just as everyone inmerica deserves to be heard and the founding fathers in the first amendment really created something that was vital to our free speech. and that is the protection of political speech. the most important. and we feel through the case that citizens united and many others will be able to do things in the future that we're currently restricted in. once again, thank you very much.

OLSON: i'll say is. the issue in this case is whether a small nonprofit corporation consisting of individuals who have a common point of view, can express it during elections. to express their views -- this was a 920-minute documentary, commenting on the qualifications of a candidate for president of the united states. some have said, that was a ver critical documentary. it does not matterhether it's aritical documentary or a documentary that a candidate makes to praise that candidate or their party. it is speech about the qualifications of the people that we would elect for high office. there's no more important protection in the united states constitution than for citizens, including corporations, to talk about issues that are important to all citizens. it is ashame that's been two years that dave bossie and citizens unite have had been prevented from airing their vie on the theory by the federal government, it would be a felony for them to communicate that movie to the public. we hope and we don't know what the court will decide, we hope the court will come out strongly in favor of the first amend right of all citizens including corporations and unions, to speak about political matters during the time of the year when it matters the most, when elections are occurring.

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The Hill - Supreme Court sharply questions ban on corporate spending by Reid Wilson - 9/9/09

Opponents of restrictions on campaign spending were ebullient Wednesday morning after arguments before the Supreme Court seemed to suggest a sweeping overhaul of a ban on corporate communications.

In an unusual rehearing of a case pitting a conservative nonprofit group, Citizens United, against the Federal Election Commission, justices expressed skepticism at the government's right to prohibit such communications.

The case originally examined whether Citizens United could use funds donated by corporations to produce and show a movie slamming then-presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. But in order to fully examine the ramifications of its actions, the court expanded the case to include arguments over two other cases, McConnell v. FEC and Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, as to whether bans on corporate communications could be enforced.

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CNN - High court hears 'Hillary: The Movie!' campaign finance - 9/9/09

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Supreme Court heard new arguments Wednesday in a dramatic case that started with a movie attacking Hillary Clinton -- but that could have far-reaching implications for U.S. elections.

"If you thought you knew everything about Hillary Clinton, wait till you see the movie," said an ad last year for "Hillary: The Movie," a scorching attack on the woman then running for president.

Citizens United, the conservative group behind the film, promoted it as featuring 40 interviews -- a "cast to end all casts"-- and promised that if "you want to hear about the Clinton scandals of the past and present, you have it here! 'Hillary: The Movie' is the first and last word in what the Clintons want America to forget!"

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Wash Times - First Amendment under fire by David N. Bossie- 9/9/09

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that "Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech." The Framers' clear intent was first and foremost to protect political speech. Today, in a rare summer session, the Supreme Court will hear arguments as to whether it should overrule two previous, and in my opinion incorrectly decided, rulings on political free speech. Namely, the justices will decide whether or not to allow Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and a significant section of McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, to stand, and in doing so, how far the First Amendment goes to protect the right of organizations to support or criticize candidates for federal office.

In 2007, Citizens United, the grass-roots advocacy group that I head, produced a documentary titled "Hillary The Movie" about Hillary Rodham Clinton and sought to show, sell and promote the film when public interest in it would be at its height in January 2008. Unfortunately for us (and our film sales), under federal election law, we could produce our film but could not advertise its existence on television and radio, nor could we give cable subscribers the opportunity to view the film in an "on demand" format.

The legal basis for banning our movie from the airwaves is that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law prohibits corporations from engaging in political speech and that Citizens United, though a nonprofit corporation, is still a corporation, and all corporate money is banned, no matter what.

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Wall Stree Journal - (Olson Op-Ed) The Chance for a Free Speech Do-Over by Theodore B. Olson - 9/8/09

Public discussion about the character and fitness for office of presidential candidates is at the core of the First Amendment's command that "Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the Freedom of Speech." Yet Congress, in its zeal to impose onerous campaign-finance restrictions, has made political speech a felony for one class of speakers. Corporations and unions can face up to five years in prison for broadcasting candidate-related advocacy during federal elections.

Is outlawing political speech based on the identity of the speaker compatible with the First Amendment? Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear arguments to determine the answer to this question.

The case—Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission—involves a 90-minute documentary produced by Citizens United, a small nonprofit advocacy corporation. "Hillary: The Movie" examines the record, policies and character of the former New York senator, now Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton. The documentary was set to be broadcast during Mrs. Clinton's presidential primary campaign. But the broadcast was banned when the Federal Election Commission declared that the broadcast would violate the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

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CBS News - 'Hillary Movie' Debacle - 9/6/09


Mississippi Clarion-Ledger – (Editorial) Contributions: Keep corporate limits - 9/8/09

The U.S. Supreme Court today is scheduled to take a new look at the constitutionality of campaign contribution laws that limit corporate donations.

Loosening restrictions would be a mistake.

The high court, in an unusual move, is having a second hearing on a case that challenges the McCain-Feingold law (Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission).

The court specifically has asked parties in the case to argue whether long-standing restrictions

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Gannett - Court Hears Pre-term Case on Clinton Film - 9/8/09

WASHINGTON - The Supreme Court returns to the bench Wednesday for a second round of arguments in a campaign-finance case that could reshape the rules for corporate money in politics.

The court's decision could generate a greater flow of cash from wealthy interests just ahead of the 2010 elections. The case, which tests regulation of corporate and labor union spending on candidates, comes at a time of increased public scrutiny of corporations and as the high court has signaled that it might lift restrictions on corporate spending because of First Amendment concerns. The court has long considered campaign money as a form of political free speech.

At the center of the dispute is a conservative group's 2008 movie attacking then-presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton. Citizens United's Hillary: The Movie featured news footage and harsh commentary by critics such as Newt Gingrich and Ann Coulter to portray the former first lady, then a New York U.S. senator, as ruthless. The question before the Supreme Court when it first took up the case last spring was whether a 2002 law prohibiting the airing of election ads by corporations close to an election applied to a feature-length movie.

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Pittsburg Post-Gazette - Supreme Court examines ban on corporate political contributions by Michael Doyle - 9/8/09

WASHINGTON -- Newly minted Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor makes her debut tomorrow in a case that could overturn a decades-old ban on corporate campaign contributions. And politics may never be the same again.

In the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the nation's first Latina Supreme Court justice and her eight colleagues must balance two competing priorities: One is to rid politics of corruption; the other is to protect free speech.

"Corporate speech adds value to our democratic society and should not be treated as a malignancy that the body politic rejects," argues Deborah La Fetra of the Sacramento, Calif.-based Pacific Legal Foundation. But consider what corporate money might buy, campaign reformers retort. "The enormous wealth that corporations have amassed in the economic marketplace has the potential to flood the political marketplace," former FEC member Trevor Potter warns.

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Roll Call - High-Stakes Case at High Court by Matthew Murray - 9/8/09

The newly constituted Supreme Court will rehear oral arguments this week in what could become a landmark campaign finance decision.

Although not expected for months, the ruling could loosen federal restrictions on downtown trade associations and unions in the 2010 midterms, allowing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the AFL-CIO and other groups to play a role similar to party committees in the weeks before Election Day.

The high court on Wednesday will again consider Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a case challenging, in part, prohibitions against certain television and radio spots in the weeks before a federal election.

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Pittsburg Trib-Review – (Editorial) The Citizens United case: Right this wrong - 9/8/09

At long last, the U.S. Supreme Court is on the brink of freeing the First Amendment from the shackles of campaign finance "reform."

The justices on Wednesday will hear a rare second round of oral arguments in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, ostensibly about whether a corporate-produced documentary, unflattering to then-presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, can be distributed via on-demand video.

But the case also is a potential death knell for the McCain-Feingold law and its patently unconstitutional, obviously absurd premise that First Amendment protections exclude "political" speech of the "corporate" variety.

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NYT – (Editorial) A Threat to Fair Elections - 9/8/09

The Supreme Court may be about to radically change politics by striking down the longstanding rule that says corporations cannot spend directly on federal elections. If the floodgates open, money from big business could overwhelm the electoral process, as well as the making of laws on issues like tax policy and bank regulation.

The court, which is scheduled to hear arguments on this issue on Wednesday, is rushing to decide a monumental question at breakneck speed and seems willing to throw established precedents and judicial modesty out the window.

Corporations and unions have been prohibited from spending their money on federal campaigns since 1947, and corporate contributions have been barred since 1907. States have barred corporate expenditures since the late 1800s. These laws are very much needed today. In the 2008 election cycle, Fortune 100 companies alone had combined revenues of $13.1 trillion and profits of $605 billion. That dwarfs the $1.5 billion that Federal Election Commission-registered political parties spent during the same election period, or the $1.2 billion spent by federal political action committees.

The Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld the limitations on corporate campaign expenditures. In 1990, in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, and again in 2003, in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, it made clear that Congress was acting within its authority and that the restrictions are consistent with the First Amendment.

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Washington Post - (Editorial) Exercise Caution - 9/8/09

THERE ARE MANY complicated aspects of the campaign-finance case the Supreme Court is poised to hear Wednesday, but the issue boils down to this: Will the justices let corporations spend unlimited amounts to elect or defeat candidates for federal office? This course of action would be unwise and unnecessary to resolve the dispute at hand.

For more than a century, Congress has prohibited corporations from making contributions in federal elections. Six decades ago, in extending that ban to labor unions, Congress sensibly barred both corporations and unions from spending money on their own, rather than simply giving it to candidates, to influence federal elections.

In 1990, the court affirmed the constitutionality of this kind of restriction. In 2007, the court made clear that the corporate spending prohibition covered not only so-called magic words such as "vote for" or "vote against" but also communications that cannot reasonably be interpreted except as a call to such action.

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Washington Post - Reversal of Precedents at Issue by Robert Barnes - 9/8/09

The Supreme Court's unusual hearing Wednesday on the role corporations can play in influencing elections carries the potential not only for rewriting the nation's campaign finance laws but also for testing the willingness of the court led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. to defy the decisions of Congress and to set aside its own precedents.

The court will consider whether the "proper disposition" of a case -- pitting a conservative group's scorching campaign film about Hillary Rodham Clinton against federal campaign finance laws -- requires overturning two decisions that said government has an interest in restricting the political activities and speech of corporations.

That raises ageless questions about the role of stare decisis -- the court's custom of standing by its previous decisions. But it also raises new ones about the boldness of a court that has moved to the right with the addition of Roberts and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.

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Campaign cash case could boost GOP by Kenneth P. Vogel - 9/7/09

Imagine power companies spending millions of dollars on ads in the run-up to the 2010 midterm elections accusing congressmen who supported climate change legislation of trying to increase electric rates and urging votes against them, or unions buying airtime to support primary challenges to conservative Democratic senators who opposed the labor-backed Employee Free Choice Act. Or even healthcare companies saturating the airwaves with messages urging voters to deny President Obama a second term.

All those ads would be illegal under current election law. But the Supreme Court will hear arguments Wednesday in a case that challenges decades of restrictions on corporations and unions spending unlimited cash on just those sorts of ads. Even more broadly, the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, gives the court's conservative majority a chance to fundamentally redefine the role of corp[[o]]rations and unions in American politics.

Campaign finance experts predict the court, which has demonstrated an inclination towards incremental loosening of rules restricting the flow of money into politics, will expand the types of ads corporations and unions can pay for. Their only question is just how much the justices will open the floodgates.

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CBS - Sonia's Featured Role in 'Hillary: The Movie' - 9/7/09

And so it comes to pass at the United States Supreme Court this week that the constitutionality of a movie about a woman who could easily be a Justice (and who one day may be) will be judged by a woman who actually is.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor, sitting for your first oral argument since joining the Court last month? Meet Hillary Clinton, The Movie. Oh, wait. Perhaps you've already met!

Even though we are weeks away from the first Monday in October, the Court meets this Wednesday, in a rare September session, to evaluate the constitutionality of important campaign finance laws. The case is a big one, but the question at its core is simple: Does the First Amendment distinguish between campaign contributions from individuals and those of corporations?

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Indianapolis Star – (Editorial) Justice Roberts' big moment - 9/7/09

President Barack Obama's health-care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week.

Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court (on the same day, as it happens) about a case that, if decided wrongly, could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests.

This sounds melodramatic. It's not. The court is considering eviscerating laws that have been on the books since, in one case, 1907 and in the other, 1947 banning direct contributions and spending by corporations in federal election campaigns. Doing so would obliterate precedents that go back two and three decades.

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Wash Post – (Op-Ed) Will court surrender democracy to corporate interests? - 9/7/09

President Obama's health care speech on Wednesday will be only the second most consequential political moment of the week.

Judged by the standard of an event's potential long-term impact on our public life, the most important will be the argument before the Supreme Court about a case that could surrender control of our democracy to corporate interests.

This sounds melodramatic. It's not. The court is considering eviscerating laws that have been on the books since, in one case, 1907 and in the other, 1947 banning direct contributions and spending by corporations in federal election campaigns. Doing so would obliterate precedents that go back two and three decades.

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AP - Hillary movie case could change campaign finance - 9/5/09

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court appears poised to wipe away limits on campaign spending by corporations and labor unions in time for next year's congressional elections in a case that began as a dispute over a movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton.

The justices return to the bench Wednesday - nearly a month early - to consider whether to overrule two earlier decisions that restrict how and when corporations and unions can take part in federal campaigns. Laws that impose similar limits in 24 states also are threatened.

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Houston Chronicle: (Op-Ed) Court should keep ban on campaign spending by Craig McDonald - 9/5/09

The banks, insurance companies and utilities that already wield too much political influence are on the cusp of a new power grab. The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will consider demolishing the century-old wall that blocks corporations and unions from spending money to influence elections of federal candidates — as well as the elections of Texas state candidates. Pushing past the narrow issue raised in this case, Citizens United v. FEC, the court is reconsidering the entire U.S. ban on corporate campaigning, which has withstood 100 years of challenges. With this one case, the court could unleash a tidal wave of corporate political spending.

Today's ban on corporate campaigning sprang from the popular backlash against the unchecked powers of banking, railroad, oil and insurance trusts at the turn of the 20th Century. Farmers and workers organized to stop these corporate trusts from buying up politicians to undermine corporate regulation and taxation.

Shattering previous campaign-spending records with a flood of corporate funds, William McKinley won his 1896 presidential campaign against populist William Jennings Bryant. After trustbuster Teddy Roosevelt followed McKinley into the White House, he used his famous bully pulpit to pass the landmark 1907 law that bans corporations from spending money on federal elections. Roosevelt's reforms followed trails blazed in Texas.

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Slate - (Spitzer Op-Ed) Let Citizens United Speak! - 9/4/09

When the ACLU and the NRA are on the same side of a Supreme Court case, opposing the majority of so-called "good government" groups, you know something odd is afoot. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, to be argued on Sept. 9, two core principles that do not easily lend themselves to compromise run into each other head-on. One is the First Amendment, which has the advantage of constitutional enshrinement along with a huge base of absolutist supporters. The second is the well-reasoned effort to rein in the influence of money in politics, which has the support of editorial boards, civic groups, and those who aspire to a democracy where money does not determine whose political views are heard.

The "Hillary: The Movie case"—as it's commonly known—poses the following question: During the days before an election, can the federal government prohibit Citizens United, a not-for-profit corporation that received minimal corporate donations, from airing advertisements for a movie that, while critical of Hillary Clinton, does not explicitly tell viewers to vote for or against her. At issue is Section 203 of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (the McCain-Feingold Act). That provision makes it a federal crime for corporations or unions to fund "electioneering communications," defined as broadcast, cable, or satellite communications aired 60 days before a general election or 30 days before a primary election that refer to a clearly identified federal officeholder or candidate.

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Wash Post - Supreme Court to Revisit Election Financing in Clinton Film Case - 9/4/09

More than 100 years of restrictions on corporate support of political candidates will be at stake next week when the Supreme Court considers whether a quirky case about a film denouncing Hillary Rodham Clinton should lead to a rewrite of the way federal elections are financed.

In an unusual hearing in the midst of their summer recess, the justices will decide whether to move beyond the particulars of "Hillary: The Movie" to more profound questions about the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech and how that squares with political spending.

The justices will consider casting aside previous rulings that uphold laws restricting corporate support of political candidates.

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Bloomberg - Foes of Campaign Finance Rules Urge Court to Overturn Precedent - 9/4/09

Justice Antonin Scalia minced no words in a 2007 campaign spending case when he accused colleagues John Roberts and Samuel Alito of lacking candor by overruling a U.S. Supreme Court precedent without saying so. "This faux judicial restraint," Scalia wrote in his opinion, "is judicial obfuscation."

Two years later, Roberts and Alito may be preparing to heed that criticism and directly overturn precedents allowing restrictions on corporate political spending. The justices next week will hold an unusual September argument to revisit two rulings, including a 1990 decision that said corporations can be barred from using general treasury funds to pay for campaign advertisements.

The case may become a turning point for the court under Roberts. The chief justice and Alito, both George W. Bush appointees, so far have shied away from explicitly reversing precedents, refusing to go as far as fellow conservatives Scalia and Clarence Thomas.

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Forbes - Keep My Investments Out Of Politics - 9/3/09

Like many Americans, I'm but a small-time investor, with investments in my 401(k) account, and that's about it. I doubt the CEOs of the various corporations in which I own stock see eye-to-eye on many political questions. In Citizens United, a momentous case that is scheduled for re-argument on Sept. 9, the Supreme Court may hold that a corporation has a First Amendment right to spend its shareholders' money on campaign advertisements that advance its own political agenda, without the knowledge or consent of ordinary shareholders like me. My retirement savings could be used to defeat health care reform, resist new regulations on financial instruments or combat environmental controls; other than liquidating my 401(k) holdings, there would be almost nothing I could do to prevent this.

Over 100 years of federal campaign finance laws kept money from investors like me out of federal politics. Existing laws require corporate managers to make political expenditures through corporate PACs so shareholders, officers and managers who would like the corporation to advance a political agenda can designate funds for that particular purpose. The Supreme Court itself stated in 1948 that "corporate officials [have] no moral right to use corporate funds for contribution to political parties without the consent of the stockholders." And, as recently as 1990, Justice Brennan wrote in Austin that the corporate PAC requirement "protects dissenting shareholders of business corporations."

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The Tennessean - (Editorial) Unlimited Spending Would Harm Vote Process - 9/3/09

The term "activist judges" has been used in recent years to attack court rulings deemed by critics to be promoting a liberal agenda. These judges ignored legal precedent for political purposes, the critics said.

This fear was expressed in an unsuccessful attempt to derail the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor earlier this summer. On the issue of campaign spending, however, the conservative majority on the high court appears to have its own activist designs.

In June, faced with a case about whether a film violated existing election laws, justices instead questioned about the validity of the laws themselves and took the unusual step of scheduling a special argument for Sept. 9, a time when the Supreme Court is normally out of session.

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Human Events - What's Ahead for Sotomayor on the Supreme Court - 9/3/09 by Sam Batkins

When the U.S. Supreme Court convenes in an unusual special session next week, it will hear reargument in the Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission case which may overturn the limitations on political speech created in the 2002 McCain-Feingold law.

And -- even though she wasn't on the court to hear the first round of arguments -- new Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be among the justices hearing the argument and deciding the case.

Citizens United is the first of three cases in which interested court-watchers will have their first opportunity to observe Justice Sotomayor and get a better idea of her impact on the jurisprudential leaning of the Court.

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WSJ - Justices to Revisit Campaign Finance - 9/3/09 by Jess Bravin and T. W. Farnam

WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court next week will hear arguments on whether corporations and unions have a right to spend their money on campaign advertisements, in a case that tests not only a central pillar of federal campaign-finance law but the court's own respect for precedent.

The Supreme Court has been chipping away at the 2002 federal law that limits political spending by corporations and unions, finding that the regulations infringe on their free-speech rights. But it has left standing a key 1990 decision that served as a foundation for the bill -- formally known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, and better known as McCain-Feingold, for its Senate sponsors, Arizona Republican John McCain and Wisconsin Democrat Russell Feingold.

In that 1990 decision, the high court by a 6-3 vote upheld a Michigan campaign-finance law requiring corporations to channel their political fund-raising and spending through political action committees. Congress relied on that decision when it crafted McCain-Feingold and, in 2003, the court reaffirmed the 1990 case in a 5-4 vote upholding the new law.

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NY Post – (Op-Ed) BANNING BOOKS? - 9/2/09 by Bradley A. Smith

THE Supreme Court seems poised to reshape cam paign-finance law, affirm ing fundamental First Amendment rights by overturning restrictions on corporate political speech when it rehears Citizens United v. FEC next Tuesday.

At issue is whether the government can ban distribution of a political documentary, "Hillary: The Movie," produced by Citizens United, a conservative group that received some corporate funding to make the film.

The government argues that it can -- relying on a 1990 case, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, that upheld a state law banning corporate political spending, and McConnell v. FEC, the 2003 case that upheld the constitutionality of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

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The Huffington Post - Five Reasons Why Citizens United Is a Truly Momentous Case - 9/1/09 by Doug Kendall

You've probably heard by now that next week the Supreme Court will break up its summer recess to hear argument, for the second time, in Citizens United v. FEC. You may have the sense that this doesn't happen often and that something important is going on. If so, you're right and then some.

The case involves a film, Hillary: The Movie, that was produced by Citizens United, a conservative, non-profit corporation, to coincide with the 2008 presidential primary season. The case began as a fairly sleepy challenge to the Federal Election Commission's (FEC's) decision to treat the film's production and release as corporate electioneering subject to campaign finance regulations, but was transformed by an order issued by the Supreme Court on June 29th.

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Forbes - Free Speech For Corporations - 9/1/09 by Richard Epstein

Next week, on Sept. 9, 2009, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the contentious case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The issue at hand is whether Citizens United has run afoul of McCain-Feingold--grandly entitled the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA)--because it took direct corporate contributions that were not funneled through a corporate political action committee.

Citizens United gives the Supreme Court the opportunity to atone for two of its worst First Amendment decisions in the history of progressive tradition. Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce (1990) upheld a similar state prohibition against the independent use of corporate treasury funds to support or oppose any candidate running for public office. McConnell v. FEC (2003) upheld the McCain-Feingold prohibition against "electioneering communications" by corporations or labor unions just before elections.

To the naïve student of the First Amendment, both these cases get things exactly backward. In 1987, Robert Bork was excoriated in his failed Senate confirmation hearings because he took the (too narrow) view that First Amendment protection is confined to political speech. Yet in the next generation, the Supreme Court twice denied First Amendment protection to speech that lies at the heart of political discourse. Why accept the odd conclusion that the more salient the speech, the easier it is to ban?

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NJ - Citizens United Sparks Pitched Battle - 8/31/09 by Eliza Newlin Carney

As the Supreme Court gears up for its Sept. 9 oral argument of a major First Amendment challenge to campaign finance rules, the case known as Citizens United v. FEC has sparked what may be an unprecedented lobbying and public advocacy war.

The high court's justices and their clerks are awash in more than 2,000 pages worth of arguments from no fewer than 53 amicus briefs in the case, according to a recent analysis by the First Amendment Center. Add in supplemental and reply briefs, and the total hits 59. (By contrast, the high court's landmark 2003 McConnell v. Federal Election Commission case drew only 22 amicus briefs.)

"This is, at least in the First Amendment/free expression context, the most that we've ever seen," said Ronald K.L. Collins, a scholar at the First Amendment Center, an educational nonprofit run by the Freedom Forum. The flood of briefs, which represents a trend not limited to Citizens United, could actually hinder the judicial process more than help it, Collins argues.

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NYT - Supreme Court to Revisit ‘Hillary' Documentary - 8/30/09 by Adam Liptak

The Supreme Court will cut short its summer break in early September to hear a new argument in a momentous case that could transform the way political campaigns are conducted.

The case, which arises from a minor political documentary called "Hillary: The Movie," seemed an oddity when it was first argued in March. Just six months later, it has turned into a juggernaut with the potential to shatter a century-long understanding about the government's ability to bar corporations from spending money to support political candidates.

The case has also deepened a profound split among liberals, dividing those who view government regulation of political speech as an affront to the First Amendment from those who believe that unlimited corporate campaign spending is a threat to democracy.

At issue is whether the court should overrule a 1990 decision, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which upheld restrictions on corporate spending to support or oppose political candidates. Re-arguments in the Supreme Court are rare, and the justices' decision to call for one here may have been prompted by lingering questions about just how far campaign finance laws, including McCain-Feingold, may go in regulating campaign spending by corporations.

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WSJ – (Op-Ed) What's Wrong With 'Hillary: The Movie'? - 8/30/09

Criticizing a candidate for public office can get you into a great deal of trouble in America these days. Ju st ask Citizens United,a conservative nonprofit that a D.C. district court ruled in violation of the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance law when it produced a critical, 90-minute documentary about Hillary Clinton during last year's presidential campaign.

The D.C. court ruled that "Hillary: The Movie" was a form of "express advocacy" and therefore, under the rules of McCain-Feingold, could not receive direct corporate funding (the law requires all corporate campaign contributions be made through political action committees). Citizens United appealed, arguing that a pay-for-view, 90-minute film on cable was not subject to the same restrictions as widely broadcast television ads.

Citizens United v. FEC is slated to come before the Supreme Court on Sept. 9. When it does, the Court will have an amicus brief filed by eight former Federal Election Committee (FEC) commissioners, including me, to consider. Together, we have nearly 75 years of combined experience interpreting the restrictions imposed on political activity by federal campaign-finance laws, implementing regulations, and investigating violations. It's clear to us that the D.C. court's decision should be overturned on First Amendment grounds and McCain-Feingold ruled unconstitutional.

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LV R-J – (Editorial) Money and free speech - 8/27/09

The Supreme Court telegraphed that a new expansion of the First Amendment right to free campaign speech may be under consideration when it scheduled an unusual re-argument of a previously heard case for Sept. 9. At issue will be whether to overturn two previous rulings that limit corporate spending in elections.

In the first, the court in 1990 upheld a state law barring corporations from using their "immense aggregations of wealth" to buy ads to oppose or endorse a candidate. The second came in 2003, when the court narrowly upheld the bulk of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance restrictions by a 5-4 vote.

Now comes the case growing out of last year's "Hillary: The Movie," intended for viewing last year, and possibly for broadcast on TV, by the small nonprofit group Citizens United. But the film got tied up in a legal battle over whether the federal laws regulating corporation-funded "electioneering communications" applied. The Federal Election Commission decided "Hillary: The Movie" was covered by the law. This limited how it could be shown, and it meant Citizens United had to disclose its donors. The Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal.

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WSJ - Pregaming (Once Again) the ‘Hillary: The Movie' Argument - 8/25/09 by Ashby Jones

Jeez, it feels like it was just yesterday that we were writing this post, about the wacky end to the Supreme Court's 2008-2009 term.

And why, again, was it "wacky?" Mostly because the court punted on two decisions. The first — whether to grant cert. on former Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio's criminal appeal — indeed raised the possibility, at least a bit, that Nacchio and his lawyer, Maureen Mahoney, might pull off the improbable.

The second potentially has a broad reach — on the disposition of the Citizen's United case, which, at least initially, concerned whether a conservative group's production of a 90-minute movie on Hillary Clinton ran afoul of restrictions in the McCain-Feingold Act. On the term's ultimate day, however, the court decided to broaden the question in the case and asked the parties to brief whether the court should overrule either or both of two prior rulings on campaign finance law — Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce in 1990 and part of McConnell v. F.E.C. in 2003.

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LA Times - In 'Hillary: The Movie' case, Supreme Court considers major shift in election law - 8/23/09 by David G. Savage

Supreme Court precedent on corporate spending limits may be overturned. The conservative majority has opposed campaign spending laws in narrower cases, citing free speech.

President Theodore Roosevelt campaigned as a trust-busting reformer, but was embarrassed by revelations that his 1904 campaign had received secret contributions from New York insurance companies. At his urging, Congress passed a law to keep corporate money out of political races.

Now, that century-old ban stands in danger of being overturned by the Supreme Court's conservative majority, on the basis of an equally venerable principle: free speech in politics.

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Bloomberg - Obama Administration Defends Corporate Giving Ban - 8/19/09 by Justin Blum

The Obama administration urged the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold a century-old ban on corporate political giving, saying the restrictions protect the free- speech rights of shareholders.

The Justice Department, in a legal brief filed today, supported a lower court ruling that barred airing of a documentary film critical of Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, when she ran as a Democratic candidate for president last year. The justices will hear arguments in the case on Sept. 9.

At issue is whether corporations can be barred from using their general treasury funds to pay for election advertisements and other forms of campaign advocacy. Limits on corporate contributions have been on the books since 1907 and have been supported by Congress and the Supreme Court.

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LA Times (Editorial) - Debating campaign speech - 8/18/09

Since the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, Congress and the courts have wrestled with how to curb the influence of special-interest money in campaigns without violating the 1st Amendment. Next month the U.S. Supreme Court will return temporarily from its summer break to rehear a case that is likely to readjust the balance between free speech and regulation. In doing so, however, it needn't relax every restriction on election spending by unions and corporations.

The case involves "Hillary: The Movie," a documentary critical of then-Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton that Citizens United, a conservative group, wanted to broadcast during Clinton's campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. The Federal Election Commission ruled that airing the film, even through a cable TV "video on demand" option, would violate the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Although the primary purpose of that law was to ban "soft money" contributions to political parties, it also imposed restrictions on "electioneering communications" -- radio and TV advertisements funded by corporations or unions that refer to a candidate for federal office and are aired close to an election. An ad wouldn't explicitly have to advocate the election or the defeat of a candidate. Groups that broadcast such spots also had to disclose who paid for them.

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Legal Times - Argument Time Expanded for Campaign Finance Case - 8/16/09 by Steve Ford

The Supreme Court today agreed to expand the time allotted for the much-anticipated argument Sept. 9 in Citizens United v. FEC. In addition to the 30 minutes for former Solicitor General Theodore Olson on behalf of Citizens United, and 30 minutes for Solicitor General Elena Kagan for the FEC, 10 minutes will go to Seth Waxman, also a former SG, to argue for the sponsors of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, and 10 minutes for famed First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams to represent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) in support of Citizens United.

We reported here last week that Olson, now with Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, opposed participation by Abrams, of Cahill Gordon & Reindel. But the Court apparently wanted to hear arguments from both sides of the original debate over McCain-Feingold, part of which will be at issue in the September argument. The Court asked for a second round of argument to discuss whether important precedents barring direct corporate spending in campaigns should be re-examined.

Also Monday, the Court announced a new lineup of circuit assignments to reflect the presence of new Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sotomayor takes over the handling of emergency matters for the western 10th Circuit from Justice Stephen Breyer. The 2nd Circuit, where she served until joining the high court, remains the bailiwick of fellow New Yorker Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Raleigh News & Observer - The fear, the speech, the money - 8/16/09 by Steve Ford

The health-care debate is so intense because, at bottom, it's driven by fear -- fear of poverty, fear of illness, fear of the loss of power and position, fear of death. People favor or oppose change because of how they see that change either relieving their fear or substantiating it.

The emotion pours out in rough exchanges with politicians. It impels people to flood us with passionate letters to the editor (we've been able to print a good sampling in the paper, but go to the ones collected on our Opinion Shop blog for a discussion that's even fuller and deeper). And for those who have the wherewithal, this certainly is a time when money is being put to use in the potent service of political speech.

Interest groups that have the money and motive -- the motive of self-preservation -- will embark on grand campaigns to sway public opinion. And they will reach directly for the levers of power via the officeholders who make decisions crucial to their fate. That means spending money to influence elections.

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NYT (Abrams LTE) - First Amendment Issues in a Supreme Court Case - 8/16/09 by Floyd Abrams

"A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Politics," by Adam Cohen (Editorial Observer, Aug. 11), minimizes the significant First Amendment issues at stake in a case now before the Supreme Court.

A conservative group called Citizens United, the appellant in the case, produced a harshly critical movie about Hillary Rodham Clinton when she was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. Under current federal law, the showing of the movie on television could have exposed the group to criminal penalties because Citizens United is partly financed by corporate grants and because the movie was shown close to Democratic primaries.

It should not be necessary to say more to indicate how serious the First Amendment issues are in the case and how dangerous the notion is that government may limit speech simply because it is even partly financed by corporations or unions. Federal law today threatens free expression of conservatives and liberals alike.

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New York Times Editorial - 8/13/09

A Century-Old Principle: Keep Corporate Money Out of Elections By ADAM COHEN The founders were wary of corporate influence on politics — and their rhetoric sometimes got pretty heated. In an 1816 letter, Thomas Jefferson declared his hope to "crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country."

This skepticism was enshrined in law in the early 20th century when the nation adopted strict rules banning corporations from contributing to political campaigns. Today that ban is in danger from the Supreme Court, which hears arguments next month in a little-noticed case that could open the floodgates to corporate money in politics.

The court has gone to extraordinary lengths to hear the case. And there are worrying signs that there may well be five votes to rule that the ban on corporate contributions violates the First Amendment.

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Chicago Tribune - Election financing shake-up possible - 8/16/09 by David G. Savage

President Theodore Roosevelt campaigned as a trust-busting reformer but was embarrassed by revelations that his 1904 campaign had received secret contributions from New York insurance companies.

Shamed into action, he soon exhorted Congress: "All contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law." Ever since, U.S. law has restricted corporate money in politics.

Now, however, this century-old legal rule is in danger of being overturned by the Supreme Court's conservative majority, which has embraced an equally venerable principle: free speech in politics.

The justices signaled the prospect of a profound shift in election law by scheduling an unusual special argument for Sept. 9. At issue will be whether to overturn two prior rulings that limit corporate spending in elections.

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NYT - Sotomayor Faces Heavy Workload of Complex Cases - 8/7/09 by Adam Liptak

For Justice Sotomayor, the new job will start with hearing the election-law case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. It concerns whether the government may limit the showing of a negative documentary about Hillary Rodham Clinton under the campaign finance laws, and it attracted only limited attention when it was first argued in March.

In an unusual move in June, though, the court set the case down for re-argument on Sept. 9, asking the parties to address the question of whether it should overrule a foundational decision about the regulation of corporate speech and part of a decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

Erwin Chemerinsky, the dean of the law school at the University of California, Irvine, said Citizens United is "one of the most important First Amendment cases in years." "It has," Mr. Chemerinsky added, "the potential for dramatically changing all federal, state and local elections if the court holds that corporations have a First Amendment right to contribute money to candidates."

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NPR - First Up For Sotomayor: A Case With Partisan Edge - 8/6/09 by Liz Halloran

Sonia Sotomayor made history Thursday, winning approval from the Senate to become the next Supreme Court justice — and the first Hispanic to sit on the nation's mightiest bench. Sotomayor's confirmation came despite strong Republican opposition and on a mostly party line vote of 68-31. But the partisan bickering surrounding Sotomayor isn't likely to end once she is sworn in on Saturday morning. In less than a month, the court is scheduled to rehear arguments in a high-profile campaign finance case that could rewrite rules that restrict political campaign spending by corporations and unions.

And it just so happens, legal experts say, that issues of campaign finance and the ongoing struggle to balance free speech rights with the corrupting effect of big money in politics lie right in Sotomayor's wheelhouse.

"She is the only one on the court who has experience as a campaign finance regulator," says Rick Hasen of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, referring to Sotomayor's four years as a member of the New York City Campaign Finance Board. "Her experience is in both election law and policy, and she could bring a different perspective," Hasen says.

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National Journal - Campaign Finance Opinion Could Roil Economy - 8/4/09 by Sara Jerome

If the Supreme Court overturns rulings that empower government to limit corporate spending on elections when it rehears Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission in September, the impact could reverberate across the economy, afflicting "severe consequences on the openness, dynamism and operation of markets."

This is the argument the Center for Political Accountability, a non-profit, and the Zicklin Center, a research division of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, waged in an amicus brief filed last week.

The CPA/Zicklin brief is one of numerous briefs filed in the past week weighing in on a case prompted by whether the FEC was justified in mandating that a 2008 film by the conservative non-profit Citizens United that negatively portrayed then-Democratic presidential primary candidate Hillary Clinton not be broadcast or advertised on television. The Court heard the case in June but decided to rehear it on September 9, before the start of the next term, a move that upped the ante by widening the scope of what the Court will consider.

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Politico: DNC: Don't Limit Obama Money - 8/3/09 by Kenneth P. Vogel

The U.S. Supreme Court shouldn't upend the campaign finance landscape because it could limit the type of small donations that helped power Barack Obama to victory in last year's presidential election, according to the Democratic National Committee.

That's one of the arguments the DNC made in a brief filed Monday with the high court, urging it not to overturn long-standing restrictions on corporate spending in political campaigns in a case it's scheduled to rehear next month.

The DNC, represented by Obama's personal and political lawyer, Bob Bauer, contends that allowing corporations more ways to influence elections will create "a widespread sense that the rules were changed, and corporate political power restored to commanding levels, just as the era of the small individual donor had begun."

For more than a century, corporations have been barred from contributing directly to candidates. The DNC, though, argues that through their political action committees, issue advertising and indirect fundraising, they have exerted more influence on politics than regular folks.

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Wash Post (Marcus): An Activist Itch On Campaign Finance Law - 8/2/09 by Ruth Marcus

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said last week that he would vote against confirming Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court because he doubts she will "resist the siren call of judicial activism."

If that's what he's worried about, there are some sitting justices whom Sessions might want to lash to the mast -- quickly. Except these justices tend to be in Sessions's ideological camp.

Next month, even before the traditional first Monday in October opening and almost certainly with Sotomayor on the bench, the court will hear a campaign finance case that illustrates the activist itch among its conservatives.

Rehear it, actually. In a surprise move on the last day of the term, the court announced that it would hold a new argument in the case -- and that it would consider overruling two precedents upholding limits on corporate money in the political process.

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Redstate - Citizens United: The Government Presses Its Case to Regulate Political Speech - 7/28/09 by Brad Smith

Earlier this year, at Supreme Court oral argument in the case of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the government raised eyebrows by arguing that it believed that it can constitutionally ban the publication of books (if, as is always the case, the publisher is a corporation) that contain even one line arguing for the election or defeat of a candidate for federal office. The government based its belief on the Supreme Court's 1990 decision in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which upheld a blanket ban on corporate political spending in order to prevent "distortion" of campaigns. Faced with the full constitutional ramifications of Austin - for the government's position flows naturally from Austin - the Supreme Court asked the parties to reargue the case on September 9, to consider whether Austin should be overruled.

Austin was based on the assumption that the government could limit some speech in order to enhance the voices of others, although the case tried not to frame it that way. Rather, the Austin Court argued it was dealing with a "different type of corruption, the corrosive and distorting effects of immense aggregations of wealth… ." To most people, that sounds like an egalitarian argument, not one about "corruption." Which would be fine - it is perfectly acceptable to favor things on egalitarian grounds - except that the First Amendment to the Constitution appears to forbid the government from making such determinations.

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Election Law Blog - The Government's Remarkable Supplemental Brief in Citizens United: No Mention of Corporate "Distortion" - 07/27/09

On the last scheduled day of the Court's term in June, the Court issued an order in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission requiring the parties to brief whether the Court should overturn two cases upholding corporate (and union) independent spending in candidate elections: Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and the relevant portion of McConnell v. FEC.

The briefs were filed Friday. I have now had a chance to review the government's supplemental brief and Citizen United's supplemental brief. (Amicus briefs are due Friday, and simultaneous reply briefs are due August 19).

There is much to like about the government's brief, and I have more about that below. But let me begin with the most interesting feature of the brief: the government does not even mention the central holding of Austin, much less defend it. To put this in context, before Austin, in Buckley v. Valeo the Court had held that contributions to candidates could be limited because of the government's interest in preventing the corruption of elected officials (through quid pro quos and otherwise) and the appearance of such corruption, but that independent spending by individuals could not be limited consistent with the First Amendment. With truly independent spending, the Court in Buckley said, the link to corruption of candidates is too tenuous, and the costs to freedom of speech and association too high to justify such limits. Buckley did not deal with corporate spending limits, but in a 1981 case, First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, the Court held that corporate spending limits in ballot measure elections, in which candidates are not involved, are unconstitutional. In Austin, however, the Court held that corporate spending limits are constitutional.

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Citizens United v. FEC - Cato Institute


Politico OP-ED - Reject the FEC's activist overreach - 7/14/09
The number of matters in which the process became the penalty, causing people to simply forgo political participation because of the burdens of the law, is striking. In one recent FEC matter, a local party committee offered to stay out of federal elections in order to reduce a civil penalty. In another, the FEC sued a defeated candidate and sought more than $300,000 in penalties. A judge awarded a mere $7,000. Because of cases like these, I proposed numerous reforms that promote agency transparency and increase due process and compliance (as opposed to "gotcha" enforcement that has permeated the commission in past years). Several have recently been implemented, much to the chagrin of the "reformers" who boycotted a public hearing on this very subject. When people can afford to fight such agency action, they usually win. One House candidate who thought his First Amendment rights had been chilled by McCain-Feingold's so-called millionaires amendment sued, and after years of litigation, the Supreme Court struck down the law. A few years ago, a nonprofit attempted to run TV ads urging Sen. Russ Feingold not to block judicial nominations. The matter ended up in court. Sen. John McCain and others intervened in the case and argued that the law they sponsored prevented this group from running ads about Feingold's official actions. The Supreme Court said enough is enough and ruled that to ban such ads was unconstitutional. The recent case about a movie produced by a group called Citizens United concerns the same issue. Now the court has asked for more argument on whether this section of McCain-Feingold should be struck down entirely. It should not be necessary to go to court again and again to fight agency overreach. But when the FEC uses its enforcement process to try to make new law — essentially handing out speeding tickets without first posting the speed limit — what other choice is there?

Wash Post - A Welcome Supreme Court Review - 7/14/2009
Columnist E.J. Dionne Jr. decried the Supreme Court's decision to hear re-argument in Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission -- which could result in corporations being freed to speak in elections after 60 years of government censorship -- as "extreme" and "activist" ["The Real Court Radicals," op-ed, July 13]. But judges are supposed to protect political speech, regardless of the speaker. Our system depends on this sort of principled judicial engagement, even when it means reversing earlier, erroneous Supreme Court decisions. Corporations, no less than any other association of individuals, deserve the right to speak out about candidates and policies that may affect them. Indeed, media corporations such as The Washington Post Co. already enjoy this right. If Mr. Dionne is worried that businesses will use this freedom to secure favors from the government, the correct response -- the constitutional response -- is to restore limits on the power of government to dispense favors. The First Amendment demands nothing less.

PAUL SHERMAN
Arlington
The author is a staff attorney at the Institute for Justice, which submitted a friend-of-the-court brief in Citizens United v. FEC. --

E.J. Dionne Jr. bemoaned the potential loss of a "century-old tradition" of banning corporate contributions to candidates in the Supreme Court's rehearing of the Citizens United v. FEC campaign finance case. Three things are worth noting. First, the court is not considering overturning the Tillman Act of 1907, which prohibited such contributions. Only independent political speech by corporations might be permitted, not contributions to candidates. Second, the striking down of Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, the 1990 ruling upholding the ban on these corporate campaign expenditures, would mean unions would also be free to engage in independent political speech. Third, it's important to remember a primary goal of the Tillman Act: to silence a business community that objected to segregationist policies that drove up business costs. Sen. "Pitchfork" Ben Tillman, a loathsome racist and an architect of Jim Crow laws, pushed through the corporate ban to deprive his political opposition of money that would be used for opponents of Jim Crow. One hopes the Supreme Court will decide that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law's broad ban on certain political speech, as well as Austin's suppression of corporate and union speech, are impermissible violations of the First Amendment. Sadly, they are unlikely also to reject the vile Tillman's legacy of silencing unwelcome political speech.

BRADLEY A. SMITH
Chairman
SEAN PARNELL
President
Center for Competitive Politics
Arlington

Wash Post - The Real Court Radicals - 7/13/2009
This week's hearings on Judge Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court represent the opening skirmish in a long-term struggle to challenge the escalating activism of an increasingly conservative judiciary. The Senate's Republican minority does not expect to derail Sotomayor, who would be the first Hispanic and only the third woman to serve on the court, and they realize that their attack lines against her have failed to ignite public attention, or even much interest. Her restrained record as a lower-court judge has made it impossible to cast her credibly as a liberal judicial activist. "They haven't laid a glove on her," said Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), her leading Senate supporter. Yet none of this diminishes the importance of the Senate drama that opens today, because the argument that began 40 years ago over the political and philosophical direction of the judiciary has reached a critical moment. Under Chief Justice John Roberts, conservatives have finally established a majority on the court that is beginning to work its will.

WSJ OP-ED: The Media and the First Amendment - 7/13/09
The New York Times recently featured an editorial about the Supreme Court's current major campaign finance case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2009). The editorial counseled the high court against overturning precedent, referring to Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990). That case allows the government to prevent corporations from spending money on electoral advocacy. According to the Times, eliminating the government's power to ban corporate political speech "would be a disaster for democracy." But if excessive influence is a reason to censor the speech of every other kind of corporation, then it is also a reason to censor the speech of media corporations. After all, the media spend millions of dollars each year on news stories about candidates and editorials endorsing them. This press is worth a lot. For example, the Washington Post's endorsement of Creigh Deeds is widely credited as the biggest factor in his rise from obscurity to victory in Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial primary this year. So where are the editorials calling for limits on the amounts of "money" -- in the form of coverage and editorials -- media companies devote to candidates?

WSJ EDITORIAL: 'Hillary: The Movie' is the Court's chance to finally fix the FEC. - 7/11/09
The Supreme Court sent a lovely shudder through campaign-finance scolds this month when it agreed to hear arguments in a case that could overturn election donation limits. It's about time, as the Justices will appreciate if they look at the follies at today's Federal Election Commission. The High Court agreed to hold over until the fall any decision in a case involving "Hillary: The Movie." The FEC claimed the 90-minute 2008 anti-Clinton documentary violated campaign spending limits, which looks like a clear example of limiting political speech. The Justices invited new arguments on some of their more benighted precedents, including 2003's McConnell v. FEC, which carved a hole in the First Amendment. We hope the Court revisits the entire edifice of campaign-finance law, whose absurdities are now on display at the six-member FEC, which is deadlocked on some key rulings. The delay has the campaign-finance goo-goos howling, with some calling on President Obama to boot GOP "obstructionists" whose terms have officially ended, but for whom he has yet to name replacements.

NJ Star-Ledger EDITORIAL: "Hillary: The Movie": Hillary Clinton film leads to a First Amendment first - 7/11/09
If politics makes strange bedfellows, then the politics of campaign-finance reform makes for even stranger ones. Consider the case "Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission" now before the United States Supreme Court. The case revolves around the question of whether the FEC had the power to ban distribution of a documentary film titled "Hillary: The Movie" during the 2008 primary election campaign. . . . It's certainly true, as the Times editors and others assert, that if the Supreme Court overturns an appellate court decision in this case, the path could be open for corporations to carve out a major exception to campaign-finance law. But that's a problem for Congress, not the court. It might be difficult to write a campaign-finance law that protects First Amendment rights. But if "Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission" is decided properly, Congress will have to take up that challenge.

WSJ EDITORIAL: Free Speech: The Movie - 3/26/09
Hillary Clinton had her silver screen moment in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, when the Justices heard a case that could determine the reach of campaign finance laws to control political advertising. The tone of the oral argument also hinted that five Justices on the Court may be increasingly leery of campaign-finance limits. During the 2008 Presidential primaries, a nonprofit group called Citizens United produced a 90-minute documentary chronicling the exploits of then-Senator Clinton. Let's just say that "Hillary: the Movie" was not an endorsement. Because the film, and trailers for it, were scheduled to run in the heat of the race on cable TV, it ran afoul of campaign finance "reform" law.

USA Today OP-ED: Top court reviews 'Hillary, the movie' - 3/26/09
The case shows how campaign-finance reform can pose threats to the First Amendment — in the sense that there's a fine line, if any, between the Clinton film and a documentary. It isn't often that a government lawyer stands before the Supreme Court and acknowledges that yes, it would be constitutional to ban a book. But that is what happened on Tuesday, as Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart defended a campaign-reform law that treated an anti-Hillary Clinton movie in 2008 as an election ad — an advertisement that could be restricted, even banned, because a corporation paid for it.

Wash Times EDITORIAL: Campaign finance law scrutinized - 3/26/09
The Supreme Court appears poised to once again scale back the convoluted McCain-Feingold campaign finance law in the face of a clear challenge to its constitutionality. We could not be more pleased, but the time for popping the champagne corks at the pending death of Congress' unwieldy attempt to restrict election speech is probably not quite upon us. In uncommonly entertaining arguments before the court Tuesday, the justices were asked to decide whether a 90-minute film attacking Hillary Clinton during campaign season should be considered the same as a 30-second attack ad. At issue is the Federal Election Commission's restriction during the 2008 Democratic primary on airing and advertising "Hillary: The Movie" on cable and satellite television. The broad questions for the court are whether the film is political speech deserving of the highest level of First Amendment protections, and just how far the Federal Election Commission can reach in restricting election speech.

Richmond Time-Dispatch EDITORIAL: The U.S. v. Books - 3/26/09
The debate over the First Amendment implications of campaign-finance law reached its logical terminus in oral arguments before the Supreme Court Tuesday when lawyers for the federal government said it should be able to ban books. The question arose in a lawsuit over "Hillary: The Movie," a partisan jeremiad produced by a conservative political group. The group, Citizens United, wanted to broadcast the film via pay-per-view during the Democratic primaries, and air promotional ads in several states. Lower federal courts decided the film was a campaign commercial and ruled that it could not be aired during the 30-day blackout period required by campaign-finance law. Deputy Solicitor General Malcom Stewart said it does not matter how long a campaign commercial is, and it does not matter if the film is a quasi-documentary. A movie is no different from a campaign ad if it appeals to voters for the election or defeat of a political candidate.

WSJ Could Hillary-Movie Case Bring Down McCain-Feingold? - 3/25/09
Arguments before the Supreme Court often make for rather dull, and predictable, affairs. The justices have presumably read the briefings, so they know what each side is going to argue. Often, they use the arguments to clear up a minor point or, Court watchers sometimes say, try to persuade the other justices to adopt their positions. But the script seemed to get tossed out the window on Tuesday during arguments over whether the airing of a documentary attacking Hillary Clinton violated the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law and, in the end, just how far McCain Feingold is constitutionally permitted to reach. The issue bandied about on Tuesday asked whether banning the broadcast of "Hillary: The Movie," 30 days before last year's Democratic primary, violated McCain-Feingold (a lower court said yes), and whether that application of McCain-Feingold violated the constitution.

NYT Justices Seem Skeptical of Scope of Campaign Law - 3/25/09
A quirky case about a slashing documentary attacking Hillary Rodham Clinton would not seem to be the most obvious vehicle for a fundamental re-examination of the interplay between the First Amendment and campaign finance laws. But by the end of an exceptionally lively argument at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, it seemed at least possible that five justices were prepared to overturn or significantly limit parts of the court's 2003 decision upholding the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, which regulates the role of money in politics.

Wash Post: High court may trim McCain-Feingold - 3/25/09
The Supreme Court yesterday appeared ready once again to trim the reach of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act, this time at the behest of a conservative group that produced a witheringly critical 90-minute political film called "Hillary: The Movie." And that was even before the government's lawyer rattled the justices by asserting that Congress possessed the power - hypothetically - to ban some political books before an election. After a rollicking one-hour argument, it seemed that the question was whether a majority of the court wanted to use an ax or a scalpel to whittle the law, Congress's embattled attempt to limit the electoral influence of corporations, unions, and special interest groups. It is known formally as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.

LA Times EDITORIAL: Looking at 'Hillary: The Movie' - 3/25/09
When is a movie not just a movie? According to the Federal Election Commission, when the film's villain isn't a terrorist or a drug dealer but a candidate for president. The agency decided that the producers of a 90-minute documentary critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton -- which they hoped to offer "on demand" to interested cable TV viewers -- had to abide by rules governing "electioneering communications," including a prohibition on advertising close to a primary or general election. Fortunately, several justices of the Supreme Court indicated at oral arguments Tuesday that they would consider overturning the FEC's interpretation of a provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

USA Today: Court hears arguments over anti-Hillary Clinton movie - 3/25/09
The Supreme Court appeared open to vigorous arguments Tuesday that federal campaign-finance law wrongly limits corporate-funded messages in political elections. Theodore Olson, representing the producers of a 90-minute movie highly critical of former Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton, told the justices that the First Amendment freedom to participate in the political process "is being smothered by one of the most complicated, expensive and incomprehensible regulatory regimes ever invented." Olson specifically protested a provision of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that kept Citizens United, a conservative group that produced the film, from distributing Hillary: The Movie through a video-on-demand program in early 2008. More significantly, Olson asked the court to reverse long-standing cases allowing government to restrict campaign spending by corporations and unions because of the potentially corruptive aspect of big-money interests.

Wash Times: Justices view 'Hillary' movie - 3/25/09
Hillary: The Movie" made its Supreme Court premiere Tuesday morning with reviews from the justices suggesting the case could lead to the banning of political books during election season and the possible collapse of the nation's campaign finance law. Citizens United, a conservative group that produced the documentary of the former Democratic presidential candidate and released the film during the primary season last year, refused to abide by the McCain-Feingold law that required it to include political disclosure language in movie advertisements.

Chicago Tribune: "Hillary: The Movie": Supreme Court hears film's challenge to campaign finance laws - 3/25/09
"Hillary: The Movie" had little effect on last year's election campaign, but it could have a profound impact on a century of election laws that restrict corporations from promoting or attacking candidates for public office. The Supreme Court took up a case Tuesday involving the 90-minute documentary that attacked now-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was running for president. Since 1907, federal law has barred corporations from directly spending for or against candidates. The same limit was put on unions in 1947. Those restrictions have come under attack by those who maintain they violate 1st Amendment guarantees of free speech.

Las Vegas Review-Journal: EDITORIAL: Book banning - 3/25/09
If you think we have, over the years, exaggerated the threat posed to the First Amendment by "campaign reform," consider Tuesday's Supreme Court arguments in the case of "Hillary: The Movie." A federal court last year ruled that the film -- an independently produced 90-minute hit piece on Hillary Clinton released during last year's presidential campaign -- should be regulated under McCain-Feingold, which prohibits certain political advertising leading up to an election. But if the federal government can regulate a politically tinged documentary, Justice Samuel Alito asked, could it also do the same to a book that advocated the election or defeat of a politician? Astonishingly, Malcom Stewart, deputy solicitor general of the United States, replied in the affirmative "if the book contained the functional equivalent of express advocacy."

The Miami Herald: Justices hear arguments over anti-Clinton movie - 3/25/09
Supreme Court justices on Tuesday gave decidedly mixed reviews to efforts to regulate Hillary: The Movie, as they considered a case that will shape future election campaigns. Everyone agrees the 90-minute film is vehemently anti-Hillary Clinton. The justices disagree on whether it's tantamount to a political ad that can be regulated or a documentary that enjoys full free-speech protection. ''I saw it,'' Justice Stephen Breyer said. ``It's not a musical comedy.'' The hourlong oral argument Monday in the case, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, left certain only one thing: The Supreme Court will produce another sharply fractured decision guiding future campaign finance rules.

Variety: 'Hillary' goes to the Supreme Court - 3/25/09
Supreme Court justices appeared dubious Tuesday that an anti-Hillary Clinton documentary ran afoul of federal campaign restrictions during last year's presidential election. The justices raised fears that the same rationale could be used to ban marketing of books or other types of content. "Hillary: The Movie," a 90-minute film made by the conservative group Citizens United, was deemed last fall by the Federal Election Commission to be "prohibited electioneering communication," preventing the group from marketing and distributing the pic through a cable provider's on-demand service last year. A decision by the high court in the case would carry potential ramifications for the growing number of filmmakers seeking to capitalize on election-year debate with projects unabashed in their partisanship, as Michael Moore did in 2004 with "Fahrenheit 9/11."

Click here to watch "Hardball" - 3/25/09

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NYT Editorial - 3/24/09
The Supreme Court hears arguments on Tuesday in a case that gives it a chance to stop political groups and corporations from gouging a major hole in federal campaign finance law. The case revolves around "Hillary: The Movie," an anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton film made before the 2008 election. A lower federal court ruled that the film falls under federal law restricting the airing of attack ads. The Supreme Court should affirm that ruling.

AP: Hillary movie not a musical comedy, says justice - 3/24/09
The reviews are in. Film critic and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer says "Hillary: The Movie" is not a musical comedy. But the Supreme Court must now determine what the scathing, 90-minute anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton movie is: a slashing journalistic documentary protected by the First Amendment or a political attack ad that must be regulated by campaign finance laws during election season. The court's decision could determine the future of the McCain-Feingold law, the popular name for 2002 revisions to the nation's campaign finance laws, one justice said. Government lawyers argued Tuesday that conservative group Citizens United's documentary about the former presidential candidate is a political ad just like traditional one-minute or 30-second spots and therefore regulated by the McCain-Feingold law. The test "does not depend on the length," Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart said.

Bloomberg: U.S. Justices Mull Easing Campaign Rules in Clinton Movie Case - 3/24/09
U.S. Supreme Court justices, considering a clash over a documentary movie critical of Hillary Clinton, voiced interest in giving advocacy groups more ability to air their messages in advance of an election. Hearing arguments in Washington, the justices today questioned the constitutionality of federal restrictions on election-related spending by corporations, labor unions and interest groups. Several suggested they at least would carve out a new exception to those limits that would cover "Hillary: The Movie," a 90-minute film that creators sought to air on a video-on-demand channel during Clinton's presidential campaign last year. Justice Antonin Scalia said the distribution method distinguished the movie from a television advertisement.

Politico: SCOTUS argues anti-Clinton film - 3/24/09
One minute they were debating whether an anti-Hillary Clinton video could be shown during her Democratic primary campaign. And the next, U.S. Supreme Court justices launched into a spirited debate over whether election laws could lead to, say, banning books. "The government's position is that the First Amendment allows the banning of a book if it's published by a corporation?" Justice Samuel Alito asked incredulously. The case involved a much narrower question — whether the conservative advocacy group Citizens United could use a cable-based video-on-demand service to distribute its 90-minute anti-Clinton documentary. A panel of three district court judges found the film was a not-so-thinly veiled attempt to undercut Clinton's presidential bid and that it could be constitutionally restricted by the government.

CNN: 'Hillary: The Movie' gets high court attention - 3/24/09
The star of the show did not appear -- and the film in question was not shown -- but Hillary Clinton's big-screen moment was all the talk Tuesday at the Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments in a free-speech case over a 2008 documentary, shown in theaters, that was sharply critical of the onetime presidential candidate and current secretary of state. At issue was whether the 90-minute "Hillary: The Movie" and television ads to promote it should have been subject to strict campaign finance laws on political advocacy or should have been seen as a constitutionally protected form of commercial speech. The high court's decision will determine whether politically charged documentaries can be regulated by the government in the same way as traditional campaign commercials.

Fox News: Supreme Court Hears Arguments Over Anti-Hillary Movie - 3/24/09
In a case that could lead to a change in how political campaigns are funded, the Supreme Court Tuesday questioned a key part of federal campaign finance law during arguments over a movie critical of former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Government lawyers argued that conservative group Citizens United's 90-minute documentary "Hillary: The Movie" is a political ad just like traditional one-minute or 30-second spots and therefore regulated by the McCain-Feingold law, the popular name for 2002 revisions to the nation's campaign finance laws.

MSNBC: A WIN FOR 'HILLARY: THE MOVIE'? - 3/24/09
After a morning of very spirited argument about freedom of speech at election time, including banning books, the U.S. Supreme Court seemed prepared to rule in favor of the conservative backers of "Hillary: The Movie" -- and make a new exception to the laws restricting campaign ads. The Hillary movie is a harshly critical 90-minute film that long-time opponents of the Clintons wanted to put on cable TV, as a video-on-demand offering, just as the primaries were heating up in January 2008. The federal government blocked it, deeming the film nothing more than a glorified attack ad, improperly paid for in part by corporate contributions. That ran afoul of the McCain-Feingold law intended to keep corporate money out of politics, even though the corporate contributions to the film came from a small non profit.

Christian Science Monitor: Was 'Hillary: The Movie' wrongly censored? - 3/23/09
The US Supreme Court takes up a closely watched case on Tuesday examining when a documentary film may violate election law and become an illegal form of campaign advocacy. The case centers on a Federal Election Commission (FEC) decision last year to block pay-per-view broadcasts of a 90-minute film called "Hillary: The Movie," which presents a negative assessment of Hillary Rodham Clinton's record as a senator and first lady. The film was produced by Citizens United, a Washington-based conservative group. The justices are being asked to decide whether the FEC's action was unconstitutional government censorship that violated the documentary producers' free speech rights.

Click here to watch "America's Newsroom" - 3/22/09

AP: 'Hillary: The Movie,' now showing at Supreme Court - 3/21/09
Months after its debut, "Hillary: The Movie" faces nine of the country's toughest critics: the Supreme Court judges. The justices' review of the slashing documentary financed by longtime critics of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could bring more than just a thumbs up or thumbs down. It may settle the question of whether the government can regulate a politically charged film as a campaign ad. David Bossie, a former Republican congressional aide who produced the Clinton movie and another describing then-senator Barack Obama as an overhyped media darling, said his films are about important moments in American politics. "The outcome of this case will dictate how we're able to make films and educate people about them," he said.

WashPost: 'Hillary: The Movie' to Get Supreme Court Screening - 3/15/09
"Hillary: The Movie" came and went without much of a splash last year. Reviews were not flattering, Hillary Rodham Clinton's presidential campaign waned and one devastating critique made sure that the scalding documentary would never become a blockbuster hit. It came from a panel of judges in Washington that said "H:TM" was not really a movie at all. The court sided with the Federal Election Commission and said the film was a 90-minute campaign ad "susceptible of no other interpretation than to inform the electorate that Senator Clinton is unfit for office, that the United States would be a dangerous place in a President Hillary Clinton world, and that viewers should vote against her."

NYTimes: Documentary on Clinton Tests Campaign Finance Law - 3/5/09
It has been about a decade since the Supreme Court considered a case arising from the tangle of lawsuits and investigations that once threatened to engulf the administration of President Bill Clinton. The nation may have moved on, but the court has not. Next month, as Hillary Rodham Clinton settles in as secretary of state, the court will have a look at "Hillary: The Movie," a scathingly hostile look at Mrs. Clinton in the tradition of Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

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